Huh. We've gotten so used to Liam Neeson cashing paychecks and cracking skulls that it's easy to forget he's an Academy Award-nominated actor (for his turn in "Schindler's List"). And while he did dial it down a bit for Paul Haggis' abysmal "Third Person" which premiered at TIFF last fall, for the most part, we just think of Neeson these days as filling time with one generic thriller after another (e.g. the upcoming "Non-Stop" and the soon-to-be-filming "Taken 3"). But it looks he'll have a chance to remind everyone that he has other special skills that don't involve punching people in the groin.
Neeson has come aboard Martin Scorsese's long-brewing "Silence," reteaming with the director a dozen years after appearing in "Gangs Of New York" (as a priest, fittingly). He'll join Andrew Garfield, Ken Watanabe, Adam Driver and Issei Ogata in the adaptation of Shusaku Endo's novel, about two 17th-century Jesuit priests who face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor and to spread the gospel of Christianity. Production on the drama begins later this year, and consider our eyebrows sufficiently raised. [Deadline]
In other casting news: Spock, aka Zachary Quinto, has joined the "Hitman" sequel, "Agent 47." He joins Rupert Friend in the sequel to the video game adaptation (more horrifying words have rarely been typed) that will be directed by Aleksander Bach. Production starts in March. [Deadline]
Forest Whitaker will write, direct and star in "The Shack,"and adaptation of the 2007 novel by William P. Young that follows "a man whose youngest daughter is abducted during a family vacation, with evidence found in an abandoned shack leading authorities to believe she was murdered. Four years later, the man receives a note, apparently from God, inviting him back to the shack and, against his better judgement, he accepts the invitation and finds something there that will change his life forever." No word yet on when it will roll. [Variety]
"42" star Chadwick Boseman has joined Alex Proyas' mythology epic "Gods Of Egypt." He'll feature alongside Gerard Butler, Geoffrey Rush, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites, and Courtney Eaton in the movie which has already staked out a February 1, 2016 release date. Boseman will next be seen in the James Brown biopic "Get On Up," opening this summer. [Deadline]
Gillian Jacobs has joined the thriller "Visions," "about expectant mother Julia who is plagued by strange and terrifying visions of a sinister hooded figure only she can see when she and her husband (Mount) move to the countryside. To protect her unborn child, she sets out to uncover the truth about what is haunting her as her husband becomes increasingly concerned for her well-being." The cast is rounded out by Isla Fisher, Anson Mount and Jim Parsons, with Kevin Greutert ("Saw 3D") directing. [Deadline]
Lastly, Jessica Alba will star in "The Wright Girls," about "Kate and Vanessa, costars on a past-its-prime sitcom and roommates in real life. When they realize they are both up for the same lead role in a big movie that could catapult their careers into stardom, the roommates will go from best friends to worst enemies over the course of one action-packed night." Kevin Connolly directs, with production starting later this year. And it looks like the previously cast Gemma Arterton is no longer involved.