Many upcoming films that were casting young stars a few months ago have been put on hold, but apparently not Akiva Goldsman’s passion project. According to THR, “A Winter’s Tale”, a time-shifting sci-fi romantic epic will be testing actors in New York next week and actresses on March 12. Back in November, we heard that up for the male lead were Benjamin Walker and Tom Hiddleston, and for the female lead starlets lining up included Elizabeth Olsen, Bella Heathcote, Gabriella Wilde and Sarah Gadon. Now, THR’s new report indicates Heathcote, Hiddleston and Walker are still set to test, and Lily Collins and “Downton Abbey” star Jessica Brown-Findlay will test for the female lead as well. It’s unclear if the previously shortlisted ladies are still in the running.
Mark Helprin’s 1983 novel, on which the movie is based, takes place in a New York City that is markedly different from the island as we know it. It takes place in the 19th Century and follows a man named Peter Lake. A bad childhood forced him to join a gang and become a thief, only to end up estranged from the group and making a mortal enemy of its leader, Pearly Soames. On a house robbery, Peter meets and falls for the terminally ill Beverly Penn. She becomes the catalyst and the force of change in his life. Another major character is a mythical flying white horse, Athansor, who acts as Peter’s guardian. Russell Crowe has committed to playing the role of Soames, along with Will Smith agreeing to cameo as a judge, two strokes of luck (along with a trimmed down budget) that has allowed Warner Bros to allow the project to keep going all the while shutting down everything from “Akira” to “Arthur and Lancelot.” Goldsman wrote the script and will make his directorial debut on the project that he has been trying to get made for at least six years.
Walker himself has become available again to new projects after being a victim of one such shutdown production, Alex Proyas’ biblical epic “Paradise Lost”, which Legendary Pictures pulled the plug on a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, he has committed to starring in HBO movie “Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight.” Hiddleston had an incredibly busy 2011 but is relatively free for future projects with only a fall commitment to vampire flick “Only Lovers Left Alive” opposite Mia Wasikowska. Collins, who frequently shows up to test for high profile female roles, also appears to be readily available having only revisionist Shakespearean tale “Rosaline” to film. British thesp Brown Findlay should be even more eager for this opportunity, having only appeared on British TV series and opposite Felicity Jones in British indie “Albatross” thus far and presumably any future seasons of “Downton Abbey” on her plate.