The next Next Big Role for young actresses is up for grabs and some familiar names are vying for it. Deadline reports Kenneth Branagh’s “Jack Ryan” franchise relaunch, which stars Chris Pine, is looking at Keira Knightley, Felicity Jones and Evangeline Lilly for the female lead. Knightley is reportedly in the lead for the role of Caroline Muller, love interest and eventual wife to the Tom Clancy created character.
The character of Jack Ryan first appeared in Clancy’s novel “The Hunt for Red October” and he was portrayed in the film of the same name by Alec Baldwin. The ex-soldier, CIA operative and all-around American superhero has also been played by Harrison Ford (“Clear and Present Danger”, “Patriot Games”) and Ben Affleck (the ill-fated reboot attempt “Sum of All Fears”). Each incarnation features a slightly different version of the prolific action hero, and Pine’s is an ex-Marine who’s working as an analyst in Moscow. There, he “discovers a plot by his employer to finance a terrorist attack designed to collapse the U.S. economy, and must race against time to save America and his wife.” [
Of the three actresses vying for the role that will come with deals for three movies should the franchise prove more successful than Affleck’s version, Knightley is by far the biggest big screen name. Already having proven her ability to shoulder blockbuster franchise flicks in Disney’s never-ending “Pirates of the Caribbean” series, she’s also shown great – and Oscar-nominated – ability to do serious dramas, particularly in the films of Joe Wright (“Pride and Prejudice”, “Atonement” and the upcoming “Anna Karenina”).
Lilly, though still a relative unknown to the film community, has sizable name recognition and a solid fanbase of her own, not to mention chops at doing action sequences, thanks to her role as the female lead of ABC series “Lost.” Since the show has concluded, she has already appeared in surprise hit “Real Steel” opposite Hugh Jackman, and has completed work on Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit”, which was just recently announced to be a trilogy.
British thespian Jones earned high marks for her breakout turn as the lovelorn Anna in Drake Doremus’ Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner “Like Crazy”, and has already completed a second film with the director. She’s high on the list of directors making period pieces, like Warren Beatty and his Howard Hughes biopic, and Ralph Fiennes’ “The Invisible Woman”, about Charles Dickens, but she has never done an action movie. She certainly seems to be the one who could benefit the most from such a high profile blockbuster franchise, and could bring an unexpected freshness to the role as well.