Peter Jackson faces an actors' boycott, and ''The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn'' gets an important new castmate

By Lynette Rice and Nicole Sperling
October 01, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Could an actors’ boycott hobble The Hobbit?
THere is still no green light for The Hobbit, yet drama around Peter Jackson‘s purported return to the Shire keeps mounting. The latest fight: The Screen Actors Guild is advising actors to boycott the upcoming epic production as part of an international effort being organized by New Zealand Actors’ Equity and its umbrella company (Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance), headquartered in Australia, to force the production into a contract for its actors. That means we may not see Sir Ian McKellen reprise his role as Gandalf despite his earlier claims that he thinks production will begin in January.

Peter Jackson, the film’s producer and expected director (though that appointment has yet to be confirmed, following Guillermo del Toro‘s exit from the movie in May), appears furious with the labor groups. The man who single-handedly turned New Zealand into a viable location option by pumping billions of dollars into his home country with the productions of The Lord of the Rings and King Kong issued a three-page tirade to the New Zealand press on Sept. 26, calling the MEAA ”an Australian bully-boy” with an agenda based solely on ”money and power.” Jackson declared that if the unions go forward with their boycotts, they will ”look forward to a long, dry big-budget-movie drought in this country.” He has also threatened to move The Hobbit, which will be broken into two films, to Eastern Europe; the studios issued a statement saying they were ”exploring alternative options.” Union actors will be meeting in New Zealand this week to decide how to proceed.

With no official director, still-unresolved financial issues with cofinancier and producer MGM, and now a labor dispute, is one of the most anticipated movies in years drifting further and further away?
Nicole Sperling

Edward and Bella get a daughter!
Twihards, meet Mackenzie Foy. The 9-year-old actress will likely take on the challenging task of playing Renesmee, Edward and Bella’s vampire-human-hybrid child who serves as the centerpiece of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn. The studio has yet to lock a deal with the young actress but is expected to do so shortly. (In other Dawn casting news, Maggie Grace (Lost) has signed on to play the vampire Irina.) Renesmee is described by author Stephenie Meyer as being armed with special powers and wired to age very rapidly. How will director Bill Condon handle this physical transformation? Expect some digitization of Foy’s face on other bodies, à la Benjamin Button. But with a face as beautiful as Foy’s, it shouldn’t be too hard.
Nicole Sperling

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