Casting roundup

More wheeling and dealing at Cannes and elsewhere:

— Julia Roberts is set to star in a movie about wildlife conservationist Joan Root, who was killed in Kenya earlier this year. The untitled project, inspired by an article in Vanity Fair, will cover Root’s earlier life as she traveled around the world making documentaries. Roberts will also co-produce with Working Title Films; she starred in the production company’s biggest box-office hit to date, Notting Hill.

— Goldie Hawn is pulling triple duty for the comedy Ashes to Ashes. She co-wrote the script with Jeremy Pikser, and will direct and star as a woman who travels to Kathmandu to bury her husband’s ashes, but loses them en route. She and husband Kurt Russell, who will co-star, were in Cannes talking up the piece and his new film Death Proof (aka Quentin Tarantino’s half of Grindhouse).

— Michael Winterbottom, whose A Mighty Heart (starring Angelina Jolie) just screened at Cannes, will direct Colin Firth, Hope Davis and Catherine Keener in the horror-mystery Genova. Shooting is scheduled to begin in Genova, Italy and Boston at the end of June. Meanwhile, Jolie announced that she plans to take a year off from film to spend more time with Brad Pitt and their four children.

— Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, who were on opposite sides of the law in Heat, will join forces for Jon Avnet’s Righteous Kill. They’ll play New York police investigators on the trail of a serial killer, a pairing that promises considerably more onscreen time together than either Heat (only one scene) or The Godfather Part II (none).

— Samuel L. Jackson is in talks to star in The Spirit, a comic-book adaptation that would be Frank Miller’s solo directing debut. If he signs on, Jackson will play the Octopus, a lab assistant turned supervillain and nemesis of the title character.

— Jeff Bridges has signed on for the How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, the adaptation of Toby Young’s novel. Bridges, who’ll play Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, joins Kirsten Dunst, Simon Pegg and Gillian Anderson in the comedy’s cast.

— Daniel Craig is on board for Flashbacks of a Fool, joining Helen McCrory, Olivia Williams, Emilia Fox and Eve. He’ll play a Hollywood star who goes back home when his best friend dies; the funeral and his fading career prompt him to reflect on his growing-up.

— Michelle Williams, Bryce Dallas Howard and Evan Rachel Wood are set to star in Bronte, a biopic about the famous writing trio. Williams will play Charlotte (author of Jane Eyre), Howard will portray Emily (Wuthering Heights) and Wood will take on Anne (The Tenant of Wildfell Hall). Jonathan Rhys-Meyers is also on board to play Branwell, their charismatic but troubled brother.

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