Catherine Zeta-Jones is another familiar face from the world of Steven Soderbergh cinema, and now she is onboard for the Haywire director's new project: Side Effects, a "pharmacology thriller" which was previously known as The Bitter Pill, then The Side Effects (now, minus "The").
The project has reportedly hit a rough patch on its journey to fruition, thanks to would-be backer Annapurna Pictures (True Grit) withdrawing her financial support. However, Open Road has issued a statement saying that it still intends to release the flick, which is expected to find new financing in the near future.
Previous Soderbergh leading men Channing Tatum and Jude Law are tentatively up to portray two-thirds of a dangerous love triangle in Side Effects - with Blake Lively playing a troubled drug-dependent woman who is stuck between her ex-convict husband (Tatum) and psychiatrist (Law). However, in a new report, Variety says that all of those stars' involvement is less certain, now that Annapurana has dropped the project.
Deadline has the scoop on Jones signing on to play another doctor who cares for Lively's character in Side Effects. The site also claims that production on the film is still on track to begin by April 2012, with Soderbergh working from a script penned by his Contagion and The Informant! writer, Scott Z. Burns.
However, matters may be more complicated than that. According to The Playlist, uncertainty about Lively as the lead character was the reason for Annapurna's pulling out of funding Side Effects. It's also for that reason that, out of the aforementioned stars attached to the film, Lively seems the most likely to take a pass now.
Bear in mind - Lively is far from officially out, for the time being. All the same, in case she does decide to leave Side Effects, several high-profile actresses are being eyed as a replacement - including, freshly-minted Oscar-nominee Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn), Emily Blunt (The Adjustment Bureau), and Imogen Poots (Fright Night), among others.
[caption id="attachment_133188" align="aligncenter" width="570" caption="Blake Lively may end up NOT suffering from 'Side Effects'"][/caption]
Lively has been praised for her dramatically-substantial turns in films such as The Town and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, but that seemingly wasn't enough to convince Annapurna heads that she can manage to pull off the part of a substance addict with ease. The studio's hesitancy seems stranger when you consider that Soderbergh is the sort of filmmaker who seems to bring out the best in everyone he works with - even someone like Tatum (see: Haywire).
That's all to say: if Lively does stay onboard for Side Effects, she has the potential to give a great performance, under Soderbergh's watchful eye. However, if she instead chooses to skip on the flick, then at least there's some stellar acting talent being lined up to take her place.
We will continue to keep you updated on the status of Side Effects as more information is released.