Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, and other casting news -- Depp becomes an action hero, Pitt's sci-fi epic is back on track, Brendan Fraser teams with toons, Edward Norton gets a ''Job,'' and other movie deals
Johnny Depp
Credit: Johnny Depp: Vince Bucci/Getty Images/NewsCom

Johnny Depp, quirky star of Tim Burton movies and arty indie fare, is not the first guy you’d think of to star in an action spectacle for explosion-loving producer Jerry Bruckheimer. (Then again, neither are Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock, stars of Bruckheimer’s current ”Bad Company.”) Still, according to the Hollywood Reporter, Depp is in talks to star in two Bruckheimer movies.

The first is a film adaptation of ”The Pirates of the Caribbean,” which Gore Verbinski (”The Mexican”) is shooting in November. That’s right, Johnny Depp would play a pirate in a movie based on a theme-park ride. The second is ”Takedown,” a based-in-fact drama about a U.S. marshal who hunts down the assassin responsible for assaulting his lover, only to find that the suspect is also working for the government. Depp fans who consider such movies a sellout may recall that Depp tried to sell out once before, without much success, starring in the thriller ”Nick of Time.” Co-starring in that one was Christopher Walken, star of another Disney theme-park attraction-turned-film, this summer’s ”The Country Bears.” So Depp’s in good company.

If you’ve seen recent photos of Brad Pitt with an extremely shaggy beard and are wondering if he’s let himself go, relax: it’s for his role in ”The Fountain,” which is back on track, now that the production has traded one investor for another. Formerly titled ”The Last Man,” the Warner Bros. film is a sci-fi epic from Darren Aronofsky (”Requiem for a Dream”). The film, to shoot in Australia, was already delayed once by costar Cate Blanchett’s pregnancy last year. Set to shoot in August, it was almost delayed again when Australian production company Village Roadshow Pictures pulled out, with Variety suggesting that the company suddenly got cold feet over entrusting a $70 million movie (some reports have the budget at nearly $100 million) to a director whose experience is limited to $5 million indie movies. But Fox-based New Regency has stepped in to replace Village Roadshow, and the movie is back on schedule.

Brendan Fraser, who played a cartoonist trapped amid his own creations in the flop ”Monkeybone,” will star with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, the Tasmanian Devil, and Tweety Bird in ”Looney Tunes: Back in Action.” As in ”Space Jam,” the classic Warner Bros. cartoon characters will interact with Fraser in an adventure that takes the cast around the world in a search for the Fraser character’s missing father and a hidden gem. Director Joe Dante (”Gremlins,” ”Small Soldiers”) begins shooting in July. Fraser’s castmates will be especially busy, as Warner Bros. is shooting a series of new theatrical cartoon shorts with the Looney Tunes menagerie that will screen with upcoming Warners releases.

Edward Norton has a new job; he’s joining Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron in ”The Italian Job,” the remake of the 1969 Michael Caine caper. Wahlberg and Norton will play rival thieves vying for a safe full of gold, with Wahlberg staging a massive Los Angeles traffic jam (that shouldn’t be hard) to distract police from the heist. F. Gary Gray (”Friday,” ”Set It Off”) directs.

Looney Tunes: Back in Action
  • Movie
  • 91 minutes