2011 is going to be a busy one for James Gandolfini, as the the actor is lining up a trio of roles in some very high profile projects.
First up, Deadline reports that the actor is set to reunite with "The Sopranos" creator David Chase for his directorial feature debut "Twylight Zones." The film is about a group of suburban New Jersey teenagers making their way in the ‘60s as a band called The Twylight Zones and it currently stars John Magaro, Will Brill and Jack Huston as the titular rockers, with Bella Heathcote also on board. Gandolfini will play Magaro's Italian-American Dad who is none too pleased with his son's love for rock 'n roll. Filming on "Twylight Zones" is set to begin next month, but he may be juggling another very big movie at the time.
Deadline also reports that Gandolfini is in final negotiations to join Stephen Daldry's "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close." Based on the book by Jonathan Safran Foer, the story focuses on Oskar Schell, a nine-year-old boy from Manhattan whose father died on 9/11. Two years later, the boy discovers a key belonging to his father, which sends him on a search through the city. Newcomer Thomas Horn will play Oskar, with Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks as his parents, and John Goodman as a doorman who aids Schell on his quest. Viola Davis and Jeffrey Wright are also on board in currently unspecified roles. If Gandolfini lands the gig, he will play a friend of Bullock's who she meets "at a support group for people who have lost loved ones." This one is moving fast with shooting to begin soon and the film slated to hit theaters this fall.
Finally, Gandolfini is also in final negotiations for Andrew Dominik's caper film "Cogan's Trade." His name has been linked to the project recently, but it looks like a deal is close to being finalized. The film centers on the titular Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt), a thug enforcer who’s called in to set things right after a high stakes card game under mob protection is robbed. Gandolfini will play "a washed-up, alcoholic, hard-up for cash hit man who was brought on by Jackie to do the first job he's done in a long time but proves to be more of a liability than of any service." Sam Rockwell, Bella Heathcote (yep, again) and Casey Affleck (likely in the film, but official word still pending) round out the cast. Shooting is set to begin this spring, with a first quarter 2012 release lined up.
Gandolfini will next be seen in HBO Films' "Cinema Verite," directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini. It airs in April.