'The Descendants' Star Shailene Woodley & 'Smashed' Director James Ponsoldt Team For 'The Spectacular Now'

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by Ryan Gowland
April 18, 2012 8:44 AM
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After her breakout turn in "The Descendants," Shailene Woodley has been understandably inundated with offers for movies. And while she reportedly turned down the seemingly-unnecessary remake of "Carrie," it seems she has finally decided to keep doing what she does best, and has signed up for a role playing a teenager who's got trouble in front of her.

Variety reports that Woodley has taken the lead role in the coming-of-age dramedy "The Spectacular Now," which will follow the "Secret Life of the American Teenager" actress as she tries to convince an alcoholic high school senior that his reckless philosophy of living for the moment may have its faults. The plot details don't offer much outside of its modified "After School Special" tagline, but the pedigree of talent suggests that there might be something more here. The script is from "(500) Days of Summer" scribes Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber, based on Tim Tharp's award-winning novel, with James Ponsoldt taking over the director's chair from Lee Toland Krieger ("Celeste and Jesse Forever"). Ponsoldt knows a thing or two about films featuring alcoholics after helming 2006's "Off the Black," with Nick Nolte as an alcoholic who convinces a young friend to pose as his son at his 40th high school reunion, and 2012 Sundance entry "Smashed," which starred Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul as an alcoholic married couple. It was reportedly Ponsoldt's "Smashed" that convinced Woodley to take the role. Sony Pictures Classics picked up the film after its Sundance debut.

"The Spectacular Now" has been in development for four years now, but with Woodley and Ponsoldt on board, the film is about to finalize its financing and will continue to look for its male lead. Shawn Levy, who directed "Real Steel" and "Date Night" will produce for his 21 Laps Entertainment banner, while Neustadter and Weber will executive produce.

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