As the Toronto International Film Festival gets underway in the great white north, we're bracing ourselves for a number of big-time casting notices. So let's run through some of the biggest casting news of the day before we really get buried under an avalanche of other deals. We've got word about who will star in Jim Mickle's follow-up to his English-language horror remake "We Are What We Are," a casting change/expansion for Gillian Flynn adaptation "Dark Places," Ian McKellen playing a crotchety old Sherlock Holmes for his "Gods and Monsters" director Bill Condon and news about where the stars of "Perks of Being a Wallflower," "Under the Dome" and "Rescue Me" are headed next.
First up, the cast for Mickle's "We Are What We Are" (the rare remake that might be even better than the original), is shaping up nicely. Living legend Sam Shepard, Don Johnson, and Vinessa Shaw have joined Michael C. Hall in Mickle's "Cold in July," an adaptation of the 1986 Joe R. Lansdale novel of the same name. Lansdale is one of the most bafflingly ignored authors in Hollywood history, especially since he writes such snappy, cinematic novels (undoubtedly his body of work will be reappraised decades after his death, a la Phillip K. Dick).
The script is being written by regular Mickle confederate Nick Damici, and the movie has been shooting since July and should be completely finished by early 2014. This is one of those perfect marriages of director and material, with Lansdale's homespun crime novel, taking place in his usual locale of East Texas, a wonderful fit for Mickle's gore-soaked sensibilities.
In other, similarly dark news, Christina Hendricks has had her role in Gilles Paquet-Brenner's adaptation of Gillian Flynn's "Dark Places" expanded and swapped out. Originally she was scheduled to play a stripper named Krissi Cates, who befriends Charlize Theron's amateur detective, but now the "Mad Men" star will play Theron's mother. She will appear exclusively in flashbacks since Hendricks' character is murdered long ago… No telling if this is an upgrade, downgrade, or sideways-grade. The stripper character is pretty vivid in the book but the mother role could be juicier.
And when it comes to detectives, few have been brought to the screen as often as Sherlock Holmes. And guess what? He's going to get another go around, this time as a crotchety old man played by Ian McKellen in "A Slight Trick of the Mind," which reteams McKellen with his "Gods and Monsters" director Bill Condon. Condon's latest film, "The Fifth Estate," opens TIFF this week and is really, really good.
Two of your favorite television stars have lined up big screen properties, as well. Natalie Martinez, who plays a soulful police officer on this summer's "Under the Dome," will star as Ryan Reynolds' wife in Tarsem's sure-to-be-visually-dazzling sci-fi thriller "Selfless," about an old billionaire who swaps bodies with a strapping young man (Reynolds, obviously), while Manny Perez from FX's beloved "Rescue Me" will play the partner of "Behind the Candelabra's" Cheyenne Jackson in Ira Sachs' "Love Is Strange."
Oh, and if you loved "Perks of Being a Wallflower" and its eerie recreation of teenage angst, get ready for some actual scariness: star Nicholas Braun looks to be joining Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt and Jared Harris in the "Poltergeist" reboot. Spooky!