Legendary Pictures’ Kong: Skull Island was dealt a pretty serious blow a few weeks back when Michael Keaton and J.K. Simmons both exited their roles over scheduling conflicts, but the anticipated tentpole has taken another step forward today with word that Short Term 12 star Brie Larson has landed the female lead.
The actress will join Tom Hiddleston, who was cast some time ago in the lead male role for the King Kong origin tale. Legendary still seeks to cast the two other male leads previously occupied by Keaton and Simmons, and Deadline reports that Russell Crowe is one of the names on the studio’s wish list, but he’s waiting for the next draft of the script before talks begin.
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Larson has been an indie darling for years but is tipped to break through to the mainstream thanks both to her supporting part in Trainwreck and her buzzy lead performance in the upcoming Room, based on Emma Donoghue’s bestseller. In that Oscar-tipped drama, she’ll play a mother who is imprisoned in a shed and raises her young son there over multiple years, attempting to stay alive despite the danger posed by the individual who’s holding them hostage.
Suffice to say, landing Skull Island is a massive milestone for Larson. She had a supporting role in 21 Jump Street but still hasn’t made the leap to blockbuster fare, instead growing her following through small, emotionally charged indies (an Oscar campaign for her performance in Short Term 12 had some serious steam behind it for a while).
Jordan Vogt-Roberts, similarly jumping from the low-key drama circuit after breaking out with The Kings of Summer, is sitting in the director’s chair, working from a script by John Gatins (Flight) and Max Borenstein (Godzilla).
Production on Kong: Skull Island is being eyed to start later this year or early in 2016, in order to meet Legendary and Universal’s planned March 10, 2017 release in IMAX.