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Liam Neeson Joins Martin Scorsese's 'Silence,' Zachary Quinto Targets 'Hitman' Sequel 'Agent 47' & More

by Kevin Jagernauth
January 31, 2014 3:20 PM
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Liam Neeson Gangs Of New York

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.

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  • ITTY IT | February 1, 2014 6:57 AMReply

    Scorsese just bored us by reheating OLIVER STONE's
    Wall Street droppings. Now it's on to rehashing 'The Mission'
    with chopsticks.

    Meanwhile, DeNiro, whose career is also nowhere, is looking
    like a dead ringer for soviet Globalist set up ---STALIN.

    Scorsese DOES have a feel for PSYCHOPATHS and MAFIA.

    Scorsese ---MIGHT---be the man to bring off the definitive STALIN!

  • yer | January 31, 2014 7:19 PMReply

    The role of the older exiled priest has the potential to be of Brandin Apocalypse Now quality. I really was hoping De Niro or DDL would get the role.

  • Webster Skyhorse | January 31, 2014 5:51 PMReply

    Sucks Scorsese's passion project after more than a few flashy assignments has a cast of second and third bananas. At one time it was DDL, Benicio Del Toro, and Gael Garcia Bernal. No objections to Neeson, but the younger choices reek of actors with "heat behind them," but less than great chops.

  • Brad | February 1, 2014 6:25 AM

    "Garfield and Driver may be considered the very best among their limited peers, but they'll need to drop the angsty and aloof mechanical acting."

    Either you are copying someone else or you've written the same sentiments on different websites ... as if the internet would be deprived if some corner of the film blogosphere was not aware of your opinion.

  • hart | January 31, 2014 11:51 PM

    "Heat behind them" is right. Not that Garfield or Driver are bad in my opinion, but it's like, there are 100,000 working young actors out there -- and we hear the same five guys' names in every casting announcement. There's no legwork in casting in 2014. No imagination. Just grab whomever's floated to the top of the stack. You'd think Scorsese would be more fastidious in his approach

  • Webster Skyhorse | January 31, 2014 7:57 PM

    These are supposed to be solemn missionaries grappling with the mystery of faith in a hostile land. Garfield and Driver may be considered the very best among their limited peers, but they'll need to drop the angsty and aloof mechanical acting. Is Scorsese even capable of bringing them to a higher level? Long way from Dafoe and company in Last Temptation.

  • Davey | January 31, 2014 7:25 PM

    I really don't get the disappointment surrounding the casting of Garfield and Driver, who strike me as two of the very best young actors around.

  • CB | January 31, 2014 6:39 PM

    Agreed, but the fact that this is getting made at all in this state of cinema is a miracle. Also, Liam Neeson is a wonderful dramatic actor.

  • James | January 31, 2014 5:37 PMReply

    I guess he's taking the role Daniel Day-Lewis was attached to for ages. Glad to see Neeson now getting those kinds of roles, he deserves it!

  • Pat | January 31, 2014 3:35 PMReply

    I'd also include the upcoming "A Walk Among the Tombstones" as a film where Liam Neeson can remind people that he is a great actor. In the novel Silence, two Jesuit priests (Garfield and Driver) head to Japan as both missionaries and to find out what happened to their mentor (Neeson). Rumors compound that he went native. Think Apocalypse Now native. Hopefully this represents a new part of Neeson's career.

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