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Casting Net: Kevin Costner joining 'The Explorers Guild.' Plus: Isabelle Fuhrman, Ethan Embry, Natalie Portman

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Kevin Costner
Michael Tran/FilmMagic.com

• Ahoy! There be Kevin Costner! The actor/filmmaker is attached to produce and star in a feature film adaptation of an upcoming illustrated novel series called The Explorers Guild. Costner is also working with writer Jon Baird, and illustrator Rick Ross, on the books themselves, the first volume of which — The Explorers Guild, Volume One: A Passage to Shambhala, set during World War I — is aiming to publish in 2014. [Deadline]

Isabelle Fuhrman (The Hunger Games) will replace Chloe Moretz in The Wilderness of James, an indie about a kid (Kodi Smit-McPhee) coping with his absent father. Michael Johnson is making his feature debut as a writer-director with the film. [Deadline]

• Ethan Embry (Eagle Eye, Can’t Hardly Wait) has joined Cheap Thrills, a thriller (whoda thunk?) about an unsavory couple who rope in some hard-on-their-luck guys (including Embry) for some morally questionable activities. David Koechner will costar. [Variety]

Natalie Portman is being considered for the feature adaptation of In the Garden of Beasts, the non-fiction bestseller by Erik Larson about William Dodd the U.S. ambassador to Germany during the rise of the Nazi party. Tom Hanks has already been attached to play Dodd, and Portman would play his grown daughter Martha, who ends up in a relationship with the head of the Gestapo — but no formal talks have started. The Artist‘s Michel Hazanavicius, on the other hand, is officially negotiating to direct the film, which Hanks’ production company Playtone is handling with Universal. [Deadline]

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