Considering their names didn't appear on recent festival casting line-ups for the movie, it's hardly a shock, and mostly speaks to Malick's hear-it-in-the-wind-find-it-in-the-editing-room approach, which finds him shooting lots of footage that he ultimately crafts into his vision (so yeah, all those folks appearing in "Knight of Cups" -- you can probably count at least half of them out of the finished product). Deadline says they "had small roles in small facets of the main storyline" and that's pretty much the case.
The film, seemingly drawn from Malick's own life, centers on a Midwestern man (Ben Affleck) who returns from Europe with a new woman (Olga Kurylenko) who he marries when he returns to America, only to wind up falling for a childhood sweetheart (Rachel McAdams). Set photos revealed that Pepper was also playing a priest just like Javier Bardem's character, while Sheen himself said last year he did a brief stint as Affleck's boss. As for Peet, her role was unknown, though she did say she "wasn’t there for very long" on the production.
As for the film itself, while it has been described as "more experimental" than "The Tree of Life," Deadline says rumor has it that it's more like "Badlands." It's probably going to defy either of those descriptors, and while there has been word that the movie embraces political and economic themes, TIFF's Progammer's Note is particularly intriguing. Here's an excerpt:
Malick studied philosophy at Harvard, and at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar; before he became a filmmaker, he translated Martin Heidegger. For all its visual poetry, his work shows a passionate interest in ideas. Where 'The New World' and 'The Tree of Life' open themselves to analysis of spirituality and ethics, 'To The Wonder continues that intellectual investigation into the realm of politics and faith. It is also, like 'The Tree of Life,' gloriously engaged with cinematic form itself.
As Malick liberates himself more and more from the restrictions of conventional narrative and pursues a more associative approach, he gets closer to eliciting pure, subconscious responses from his viewers. It is gratifying to note that the same man who long ago wrote an uncredited draft of 'Dirty Harry' now finds freedom in the transcendental.
Uh, wow, so yeah, we can't wait. "To The Wonder" hits Venice and TIFF, but not a theater near you as distribution is still coming together.