Blake Lively Chooses Between SAVAGES and OZ: THE GREAT AND POWERFUL

     April 11, 2011

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In casting Savages, director Oliver Stone lost potential female lead Jennifer Lawrence to The Hunger Games.  Since then, Stone and Universal Pictures have cast out a wide net for young actresses to fill the role including Olivia Wilde, Teresa Palmer, and Blake Lively.  Lively has emerged as the frontrunner to play Ophelia, the kidnapping victim that catalyzes the drug running drama.  The pursuit of Ms. Lively, however may end in the same heartbreak.  Lively is also considering the role of Glinda the Good Witch of the East in Disney’s Oz: the Great and Powerful.  Overlapping schedules this summer will likely preclude the actress from signing on to both films.  Hit the jump for more information on both Savages and Oz.

The Wizard of Oz movie image (3)James Franco plays a traveling salesman and illusionist whisked away to Oz in a hot air balloon in Oz: the Great and Powerful, a prequel to The Wizard of Oz.  (Franco’s character eventually becomes the titular wizard.)  He lands in the middle of a battle between three sisters for control of the land.  Mila Kunis plays Theodora, initially a good witch with Glinda.  No matter Lively’s decision, Disney still needs to cast the third sister, Evanora, a bad, bad witch.  Olivia Wilde, Amy Adams, Kate Beckinsale, Keira Knightley, and Rebecca Hall have been mentioned as possible candidates.  Sam Raimi (Spider-Man) will direct from a rewrite by David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole).

Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch are in negotiations to star as marijuana growers Ben and Chon in Stone’s adaptation of the Don Winslow novel Savages.  Benicio del Toro and Salma Hayek are in talks to play members of the cartel that kidnap Ophelia.  Variety mentions that Uma Thurman is in consideration for an unspecified role.  Universal wants Savages in front of cameras by June.

Below is the official synopsis for Winslow’s novel:savages-book-cover

The future is looking good for Laguna Beach, Calif., marijuana growers Ben and Chon, until they receive an ominous e-mail from the Baja Cartel. Attached is a photograph showing the decapitated bodies of other independent drug dealers. The message is clear: sell your product through us or else. Ben and Chon try to resist, but matters escalate after cartel thugs abduct Ophelia, the guys’ beautiful young playmate and accomplice, and hold her for a cool million ransom. Meanwhile, Elena “La Reina” Sanchez Lauter, the leader of the Baja Cartel, must deal with rival drug gangs and potential overthrow from within. Ben and Chon propose a trade that Elena can’t refuse, setting the stage for the violent and utterly satisfying ending. [Amazon]

My first reaction to Lively as Glinda was, “Oh, that makes perfect sense.” (To contrast, that was not my first reaction Lively as test pilot.)  She’s such a sweetheart.  Great casting.

On the other hand, Ophelia sounds more similar to her role in The Town.  To join Savages would further establish Lively as a presence in more adult fare.  Plus, I’m very intrigued by Savages and favor any action that pushes the project closer to production.  Hmm… can she do both?

Lively will next be seen trying to portray a credible test pilot in Green Lantern, which opens June 17.  The actress is currently filming Hick with Chloe Moretz.  (The name of Lively’s Hick character is Glenda.  Omen?)

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