When Robert Downey Jr. had to call it quits on Alfonso Cuarón’s expensive sci-fi thriller, Gravity, it left us wondering: who else could make for a smooth-talking astronaut that survives a cataclysmic onslaught of satellite debris in space?
That may not be the most common of character tropes, but it seems that a fitting replacement for the Iron Man/Sherlock Holmes star has been found - namely, Hollywood's silver-haired (Fantastic Mr.) fox himself, George Clooney.
Variety broke the story concerning Clooney coming onboard for Cuarón’s already-delayed Gravity, which producer David Heyman (the Harry Potter franchise) hopes to get into production by Spring 2011. While Clooney is set to begin shooting The Ides of March in February, he will only be a supporting player in Cuarón’s sci-fi flick - so Gravity could conceivably begin filming with its Oscar-winning leading lady Sandra Bullock before Clooney wraps production on his political drama.
Bullock will be the only human onscreen for the large chunk of Gravity, which was scripted by Cuarón and his son, Jonas. The 3D project will require an extensive amount of post-production work as it is expected to be upwards of 60% CGI and contain a number of Cuarón’s trademark elaborate tracking shots - some of which will likely be the result of work done in the editing room.
The pic revolves around two astronauts (Bullock and Clooney) who must struggle to make their way back to Earth after a storm of satellite wreckage lays waste to their space station and wipes out the rest of their crew. Clooney's character survives by sheer chance, having been away in a small ship when disaster struck - which leaves Bullock to fend for herself and find a way to make it back home alone.
Cuarón has half-jokingly referred to Gravity as essentially Castaway in space, since Bullock's character will be literally ship-wrecked and forced to rely on her survival instincts if she has any hope of seeing her loved ones (specifically, her daughter) on Earth ever again. Those that have seen Cuarón’s Children of Men know how capable the filmmaker is when it comes to constructing intense action sequences, so Gravity has the potential to be quite the thrill ride.
Expect Gravity to have much more substance than your average F/X - driven thriller as well, since Cuarón is very much a storyteller who's concerned with character development and personal drama. The visceral nature of a film like this becomes all the more palpable when audiences actually care about the people involved, so hopefully Bullock and Clooney will rise to the occasion too (we suspect they will).
If Gravity does begin production by next spring, look for it to reach theaters in either late 2011 or the first half of 2012.