While Fargo and Legion creator Noah Hawley’s feature debut Pale Blue Dot suffered a setback last year when Reese Witherspoon vacated the lead role, a switcheroo is underway to keep this thing on track. Variety reports that Oscar-winner Natalie Portman is now in talks to take over the part, which is that of a successful female astronaut who starts to unravel when faced with everyday life after she returns from a mission in space.
That’s a plum part to be sure, as the movie aims to explore the theory that astronauts can lose their sense of reality when returning to Earth after spending long amounts of time in space. Hawley is directing from a script by Brian C Brown and Elliott DiGuiseppi.
Witherspoon didn’t depart the Fox Searchlight project over creative differences, but instead was looking to clear her schedule to make way for a potential second season of Big Little Lies, which is now official. Portman, meanwhile, next leads the sci-fi horror thriller Annihilation, from writer/director Alex Garland, so it appears she’s keen on further exploring this kind of heady sci-fi territory.
After breaking out as the showrunner of FX’s Fargo and then creating a different but similarly interesting series with Legion, Hawley had originally intended to make his feature debut with another Fox Searchlight picture, Buried Bodies, but Pale Blue Dot gained momentum when Witherspoon signed on. With Portman now eyeing the lead role it sounds like this movie is definitely happening.
When, exactly, Pale Blue Dot will shoot is unclear. Hawley is currently in the midst of shooting Legion Season 2 and FX recently announced a new season of Fargo, once again spearheaded by Hawley, to debut in 2019. Since Fargo shoots in the winter that gives Hawley a pretty big hiatus this summer during which he could feasibly shoot this sci-fi feature. He’s also developing a Doctor Doom movie at Fox, but that one’s future is a bit unclear in the wake of the Disney-Fox deal, and it sounds like Pale Blue Dot is further along.
Whatever the case, this certainly sounds like an exciting project, and Portman’s a great actress so it should be fun to see what she does with the role. And given Fox Searchlight’s track record, it’s not hard to believe this could possibly be an awards contender once it finally hits theaters.