In one of the more random announcements of recent memory: Sean Penn has decided to drop out of not one, but two of his bigger projects. Penn has informed producers that he will no longer be appearing as Larry in The Three Stooges, and that he also will not be appearing in Cartel — a movie about a man protecting his son from a gang of drug cartels who killed his wife. It appears that the actor has decided to step away from acting for a while after his Oscar-winning performance in Milk to spend more time with his family. Penn has two movies currently in post-production that are on the way, and also another project in pre-production called This Must be the Place, but no word on his leaving or staying with that film.
Universal seems to be fine with this and is going to recast his role in Cartel, which is still in the process of being written. MGM, on the other hand, has a little bit more of a problem to figure out. The Three Stooges movie has been up and down for years now, and it was only last November that it was announced that the Farrelly Brothers had moved the property from WB to to MGM and were finally moving forward with the movie. After that came the blockbuster announcement that the directing-duo had found their Stooges in Jim Carrey as Curly, Benicio del Toro as Moe, and Sean Penn as Larry. There’s the possibility that the Farrelly’s have other actors lined up for the roles, but at the moment, there is no word on how Penn’s departure will affect the forward-progress.
Personally, I think Sean Penn may have been the best-fitting of the three actors chosen and I’ve always been skeptical of how this Three Stooges movie would turn out. But when it comes to the role of Larry, I can make it easier for MGM: don’t worry about the whole superstar casting thing — I say run out and grab David Paymer (Drag Me to Hell), and move on with the project!