Casting Roundup: 'World War Z', 'Gangster Squad', 'Argo'

Another day, another fresh batch of casting moves. Today, the projects in question include Marc Forster's World War Z adaptation; Zombieland helmer Ruben Fleischer's Gangster Squad; and Ben Affleck's next directorial effort, Argo.

World War Z is the film that has experienced a significant turnaround in status over the past few months. The long-in-development big screen take on Max Brook's best-selling zombie novel was in danger of collapsing this past March; now, it's prepped to begin production within the month.

Variety says that James Badge Dale (The Pacific) is in negotiations to appear in World War Z as (appropriately) a solider who struggles to convince the authorities that there is a legitimate zombie threat on the horizon. Brad Pitt will serve as the film's protagonist, a U.N. researcher who interviews survivors in the aftermath of the war between humanity and the undead.

Forster has been associated with this project in some capacity since 2008 - so he's probably glad that the $125 million venture is finally ready to get underway. That he'll be working from a highly-regarded script co-written by Matthew Michael Carnahan (The Kingdom) and J. Michael Straczynski (Thor) - with sturdy talents like Pitt, Dale, and Mireille Enos as members of the cast - definitely doesn't hurt either.


Gangster Squad

Anthony Mackie in 'The Hurt Locker'

Anthony Mackie has also been rumored recently as a potential candidate to star in World War Z. However, he has now officially signed on the dotted line for the real-life crime drama Gangster Squad, which was scripted by former real-life Los Angeles police officer Will Beall (Castle) - so that could mean Mackie won't be available to appear in Forster's zombocalyptic thriller as well.

As Variety has pointed out, Mackie joins an excellent collection of actors already onboard to star in Gangster Squad - including, Oscar-winner Sean Penn as the infamous mobster Mickey Cohen and Oscar-nominees Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling as two members of the LAPD charged with keeping East Coast mafia types out of the City of Angels, during the 1940s and 50s.

Fleischer will get to stretch his filmmaking muscles a bit by taking on a (naturally) more realistic and grounded action-drama here than he did with Zombieland. Even with its true-story subject matter and animated character like the crime boss Cohen, there's always the danger that Gangster Squad could play out like a cliché cops and gangsters tale - given the talent involved, though, that doesn't seem all that likely.



Ben Affleck will followup last year's acclaimed cops & robbers picture, The Town, with a project that definitely belongs in the stranger-than-fiction category: Argo, a film that tells the true story of how the CIA and Canadian government smuggled out several Americans taken hostage in Iran (in 1979) by having their operatives pose as a Hollywood crew making a movie titled (what else) "Argo."

Variety is reporting that Oscar-winner Alan Arkin is in talks to sign on for Argo to play the role of Hollywood mogul Lester Siegel, "an O.S.S. veteran described as equal parts bookie and rabbi." If that part doesn't immediately jump out as something right up the elder screen legend's alleyway, then chances are good that you're not all that familiar with Arkin's screen persona in recent years.

Argo sounds it could be a cross between an unorthodox heist pic and political drama - with some humor thrown in for good measure. Affleck has proven himself to be a worthy filmmaker after helming both Gone Baby Gone and The Town; now, Argo will also allow him the opportunity to not only go three-for-three as director, but also demonstrate that he can tell an engaging story that isn't set in Boston.


We shall keep you posted on the status of World War Z, Gangster Squad, and Argo - including, when any one of these projects lands an official release date.

Source: Variety (link 1) (link 2) (link 3)

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