This week's wrap of casting news sees the writer/directors take the lead.
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6 Jul 2012 - 4:40 PM  UPDATED 5 Nov 2012 - 5:30 PM

Luc Besson's latest draws big names to France

If Luc Besson will not come to America, then America will come to Luc Besson: the ever prolific French writer, director and producer (who will soon have Liam Neeson dispensing further vengeance in Taken 2) will follow up his unexpected Aung San Suu Kyi biopic The Lady with Malavita, a comic adventure about a former Mafia member and his wife who end up in France after entering a witness protection program. The couple that no longer wants to be married to the mob will be played Robert De Niro (Goodfellas, Limitless) and Michelle Pfeiffer (Scarface, Dark Shadows), while the role of the veteran FBI agent who must handle their relocation will go to Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive, No Country for Old Men).

Drive scribe takes driver's seat

The novels of Patricia Highsmith – crime thrillers with a pitch perfect moral trajectory – have long been a boon to the movies, with the character of Tom Ripley alone appearing on screen via Dennis Hopper (Wim Wenders' The American Friend), Matt Damon (Anthony Minghella's The Talented Mr. Ripley) and John Malkovich (Liliana Cavani's Ripley's Game). Now Highsmith's 1964 novel The Two Faces of January, the story of an American con artist, his wife and a stranger on the run in a foreign country following the death of a policeman, is being adapted into a movie. It will be the directing debut of screenwriter Hossein Amini (The Wings of the Dove, Drive), and his cast so far includes Viggo Mortensen (The Lord of the Rings, A Dangerous Method) and Oscar Isaac (Drive).

Rose Byrne makes hay while sun shines, beyond the pines

The Australian actor Rose Byrne has had a fine run of performances over the last few years, from being hilariously dead-on as a shallow English pop star in Get Him to the Greek and a frenemy to Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids to playing a dedicated CIA agent in X-Men: First Class. She's adding to that with a further slate of appearances that includes the English romantic comedy I Give it a Year alongside Anna Faris and Simon Baker, from Sacha Baron Cohen collaborator Dan Mazer, and the crime drama The Place Beyond the Pines from Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance, where Byrne will co-star with Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper and Eva Mendes. Her latest film looks likely to be the Hollywood comedy The Internship, where a pair of retrenched 40-somethings – to be played by Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn – decide to start at the very bottom of a Silicon Valley company where everyone is younger than them. Byrne is in talks to play their patient boss and Wilson's eventual love interest.

August ensemble for existential adaptation

Finally, veteran Danish filmmaker Bille August (Pelle the Conqueror, the 1998 Les Miserables) has an imposing ensemble cast for his adaptation of Pascal Mercier's 2004 best seller Night Train to Lisbon: Jeremy Irons (Reversal of Fortune, Margin Call) plays a Swiss teacher who is introduced via a mysterious woman and a novel to the capital of Portugal, and he's joined by Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds), Bruno Ganz (Wings of Desire), Martina Gedeck (The Baader-Meinhof Complex) and Charlotte Rampling (The Eye of the Storm).