Forest Whitaker to Play MLK in MEMPHIS; Melissa Leo Joins THE EQUALIZER; Katherine Waterston Lands INHERENT VICE Female Lead

     May 30, 2013

forest whitaker melissa leo katherine waterston

Great casting news to report tonight:

  • Forest Whitaker is in talks to play Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, a biopic written and directed by Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum) that follows the civil rights icon over his final days in Memphis.
  • Melissa Leo is in negotiations to join Denzel Washington and Chloe Grace Moretz in The Equalizer, a feature adaptation of the 1980s television series directed by Antoine Fuqua (Olympus Has Fallen).
  • Paul Thomas Anderson cast relative newcomer Katherine Waterston as the female lead in Inherent ViceJoaquin Phoenix is set to star—Benicio Del Toro, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Martin Short and possibly Sean Penn co-star.

More on each project after the break.

martin luther king jr memphisGreengrass has been developing Memphis for a few years now, but had to push back production when Universal dropped the project.  Greengrass found new funding through Veritas and Wild Bunch last November, and according to The Wrap, Memphis will be Greengrass’ next project after Captain Phillips.  It’s a heavy role that comes with major expectations, so best to ignore the height/age comparison to secure an Oscar-winning professional like Whitaker, should he sign on.  Greengrass’ script follows King as he organizes the protest march in Memphis where he was to be assassinated.  Greengrass also pays attention to King’s marital troubles and the FBI-led manhunt to find the assassin.

Washington plays McCall, a former covert operative who dedicates his life to helping those in need to make amends for his dark past in a “CIA-like agency.”  According to Deadline, Leo will play McCall’s former handler: “She provides him with intelligence about who he is facing when he runs up against a new adversary.”  Moretz will play a young prostitute. The Equalizer begins shooting next month in Boston.

inherent vice book cover

According to Deadline, Waterston will play the free-spirited hippie who sets the plot of Inherent Vicein motion by hiring former boyfriend and private detective Doc Sportello (Phoenix) to investigate a case in 1970 Los Angeles.  The Warner Bros. production begins shooting this summer.  Here’s the book synopsis:

It’s been awhile since Doc Sportello has seen his ex-girlfriend.  Suddenly out of nowhere she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. Easy for her to say.  It’s the tail end of the psychedelic sixties in L.A., and Doc knows that “love” is another of those words going around at the moment, like “trip” or “groovy,” except that this one usually leads to trouble. Despite which he soon finds himself drawn into a bizarre tangle of motives and passions whose cast of characters includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, a tenor sax player working undercover, an ex-con with a swastika tattoo and a fondness for Ethel Merman, and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang, which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dentists. [Book Browse]

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