By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist September 12, 2011 at 2:48AM
Robert Zemeckis is finally returning to the live-action world, having spent the decade since the one-two punch of "Cast Away" and "What Lies Beneath" with dead-eyed motion-capture pixel people, with increasingly diminishing returns. It was confirmed last week that the "Back to the Future" helmer would be teaming up with Denzel Washington for the drama "Flight," and things are moving at top speed on the project, as Deadline report that Zemeckis has now found his female lead for the film.
The site reveal that Kelly Reilly, the British actress perhaps best known for her role as Jude Law's love interest Mary Morstan in the Guy Ritchie "Sherlock Holmes" films, has beaten off some stiff competition, including Olivia Wilde and "The Guard" actress Dominique McElligott (who's cropping up on a lot of shortlists without ever quite landing the parts, having previously been in the running for Gwen Stacy in "The Amazing Spider-Man"), to play opposite Washington in the project.
The plot involves a commercial airline pilot named Whip (Washington), who manages to land a damaged plane, saving the lives of a hundred passengers. However, allegations soon emerge that he was drunk during the flight, causing him to be hounded by the press. Reilly will play Nicole Devlin, a drug addict who befriends Whip.
Reilly's a terrific actress who hasn't quite had the screen showcase she deserves yet, despite turns in films like "Pride & Prejudice" and "Mrs Henderson Presents" (we saw her on stage in London in "Othello" with Ewan McGregor and Chiwitel Ejiofor a few years ago, and she was ace). Regardless of whether Zemeckis is able to get his groove back here, it should see Reilly's star shooting upwards when the film's released: filming begins soon, and we'll likely see this emerging in time for the 2012 awards circuit.