Lynne Ramsay has roped Natalie Portman into starring in her new film – a western.
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31 Aug 2012 - 11:35 AM  UPDATED 5 Nov 2012 - 4:50 PM

Portman shoots for love
The Scottish filmmaker Lynne Ramsay has only made three feature films in the last 13 years – 1999's Ratcatcher and 2002's Morvern Callar and then a long gap before 2011's We Need to Talk About Kevin – but each film is distinctive and clearly answers to her creative impulses. For her next feature she's branching out, directing another writer's script and stepping into that most American of genres, the western. In Jane Got a Gun, a man returns to his homestead barely alive, having been shot multiple times, and it's up to his wife to protect him from his assailants, who are on their way to finish him off. The wife's only hope is to call on a former lover, a gunslinger, to come to their aid.

The role of the wife will be played by Natalie Portman, who is returning to the screen after having a child and getting married. Portman finished up with a blockbuster turn in Thor and a Best Actress Academy Award for Black Swan, and her upcoming projects continue that mix. As well as the sequel Thor: The Dark World, with Chris Hemsworth, she's working on two future Terrence Malick films, Knight of Cups and an untitled contemporary romance (although see below for how that could turn out).

As the gunslinger Ramsay has offered the part to the gifted Irish actor Michael Fassbender, who was most recently in Ridley Scott's Prometheus and Steve McQueen's Shame. The much in demand Fassbender is working once again with McQueen, on another 19th century piece, Twelve Years a Slave, and starring in The Counselor, Ridley Scott's take on a screenplay by acclaimed novelist Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men, The Road) that also stars Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem.

Noomi knows thrillers
Fassbender's dismembered android, David, and Noomi Rapace's scientist, Elizabeth Shaw, were the only characters to survive the sometime bewildering Prometheus, and with that film's commercial success they may star together in a sequel. In the meantime, Rapace continues to add to the profile ignited by playing Lisbeth Salander in the Millennium trilogy. She stars opposite Rachel McAdams in Brian De Palma's psychosexual thriller Passion, and then reunites with Niels Arden Oplev, the director of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, for the American-set thriller Dead Man Down, co-starring Colin Farrell. After that it's a return to Sweden, for the biopic of cabaret singer Anita Lindblom and boxer Bosse Hogberg. Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke will direct Rapace and her husband Ola in the lead roles.

Malick the Knife
Finally, some anti-casting news: Rachel Weisz, Michael Sheen, Barry Pepper, Amanda Peet and Jessica Chastain have all had their scenes, however brief or major, cut from Terrence Malick's To the Wonder. The new film, from the director of The Thin Red Lineand The Tree of Life, premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival next week, and the cast that have survived for the story of a man who meets a former love as his marriage is ending comprises Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem and Olga Kurylenko. Malick obviously doesn't play favourites, as Chastain was central to The Tree of Life, but those cut out at least are in good company. Viggo Mortensen, Bill Pullman, Mickey Rourke and Gary Oldman, amongst many, were all excised from the final edit of The Thin Red Line.