Bella Thorne, Michael Gambon, Chris Zylka, and Emily Hampshire have signed on for The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, which also has Jessica Chastain, Kit Harington, Kathy Bates, Susan Sarandon, and Taylor Kitsch among its cast. Xavier Dolan, who recently worked on Adele’s “Hello” music video, will direct the film, marking his English-language feature debut. The story centers on an American TV star (Harington) and a young man from England, who begin writing to each other as pen pals. Little is known about the actors’ parts at this time, but Dolan did tell Variety that Thorne will play the assistant of Chastain’s character. The film will shoot in New York, Montreal, Prague, and London, and production is scheduled to kick off this spring. [Variety]
Joaquin Phoenix has claimed the lead in director Casey Affleck’s Far Bright Star, bringing the pair, who previously worked on I’m Still Here, back together. Damien Ober adapted Robert Olmstead’s 2009 novel for the screen. The 1916-set story follows an aging cavalryman (Phoenix) who must survive alone in the desert after a hunting mission for the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa goes wrong. Affleck will produce along with The Lego Movie’s John Powers Middleton. The film is the first of their The Affleck/Middleton Project. [The Wrap]
Brendan Gleeson and Anthony Michael Hall are set for the Prohibition era drama Live By Night. Ben Affleck is directing from a script he wrote, which is an adaptation of the novel by Dennis Lehane. Affleck, Scott Eastwood, Zoe Saldana, Sienna Miller, Elle Fanning, Chris Cooper, Chris Messina and Max Casella already star in the film, which will have Gleeson as the father of Affleck and Eastwood’s characters. The film is scheduled to release in 2017. [Deadline and The Wrap]
T.J. Miller will potentially star as the lead in Ex-Criminals, which heand M. Miller Davis are writing. The story of a bank-robbing couple who break up on the night before a huge heist was just acquired by DreamWorks. [THR]
Daniel Kaluuya will star opposite Allison Williams in Get Out. Jordan Peele will direct the horror flick, marking his directorial debut. The film tells the story of an African-American man who heads to his white girlfriend’s family estate for a visit. Jason Blum is producing along with Sean McKittrick and Edward H. Hamm Jr., with Couper Samuelson, Ray Mansfield and Shaun Redick executive producing. [Deadline]
Jane Seymour, Annabelle Stephenson, Nicholas Gonzalez, and Paul Rodriguez have joined the cast of Praying for Rain, EW has learned. Alex Ranarivelo is directing the drama, with a screenplay from Gloria Musca and Christina Moore. The story focuses on NYC reporter Emma Gardner, who returns home following her father’s untimely passing and discovers that the farming community she grew up in has suffered from drought, gangs, and poverty — what’s more, she learns that her father’s death was no accident. Principal photography for the film, from Forrest Lucas and Ali Afshar’s ESX Entertainment, is set to take place in Northern and Central California.