We heard earlier in the week Aaron Johnson (Kick Ass) was offered the role of Ben in Oliver Stone’s adaptation of Savages. Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights) is now in talks to play Chon, who grows marijuana with Ben in Laguna Beach in the novel by Don Winslow. The story centers around the boys’ struggle with a Mexican drug cartel that tries to muscle in on Ben and Chon’s business, even kidnapping their “beautiful young playmate and accomplice” Ophelia. Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone) was in talks to play Ophelia, but had to drop out due to her commitment to The Hunger Games. Deadline indicates that Stone is looking at Olivia Wilde (Tron: Legacy) and other unspecified candidates similar to Ms. Wilde for the role. Likewise, Stone is talking to Salma Hayek to play the cartel matriarch, “an iron-fisted beauty who becomes intrigued and practically maternal over the kidnapped [Ophelia].”
Universal Pictures is reportedly the frontrunner among three studios to land the distribution deal for Savages. Filming is scheduled to begin in June. Read the book synopsis after the break.
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]
Shane Salerno (Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem) will write the script with Winslow.
The book sounds like it has the makings of a perfectly taut thriller — I’m totally in if they can secure this cast. To sign Johnson, Kitsch, and Wilde to the same project at this stage in their career would be quite the coup.
Kitsch is at the center of two 2012 tentpoles: John Carter of Mars (March 9, 2012) and Battleship (May 18, 2012). Wilde is on the verge of ubiquity, with a 2011 slate that includes Cowboys & Aliens (July 29), The Change-Up (August 5), Now (October 28) and Butter. Johnson is keeping a relatively lower profile, with just Albert Nobbs confirmed; he is currently in talks to star opposite Keira Knightley and Jude Law in an adaptation of Anna Karenina.