If you follow movie news, you’re aware that last month we found out that Guillermo del Toro would be directing his dream project next, a massive big-budget adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft‘s At the Mountains of Madness with James Cameron helping out as a producer. This was some of the more exciting news we’ve heard in recent memory, but now begins the not-so-exciting aspect to the project: the casting rumors.
When del Toro was attached to direct The Hobbit, the constants in related news were either delays due to MGM’s ongoing struggles (which ultimately led to del Toro stepping away from the movies), and of course the never-ending rumors of who might play Bilbo Baggins. Now the casting frenzy has begun with At the Mountains of Madness, and we have our first two potential lead-role names.
The good news here is that these actors are not randomly generated rumors, but more the leading names on the studio and director’s wish list. The bad news is that the studio and director seem to have a difference in opinion. Universal is the studio backing the risky project, and sources close to the action claim that they want James McAvoy to star. On the other hand, Mr. del Toro has more of a liking for a one Tom Cruise to lead the charge.
The thing about all of this is that it really doesn’t matter yet. At the Mountains of Madness doesn’t even begin filming until May of 2011, meaning there’s a whole lot of time left to figure out casting and whether either of these stars will even be available. People will indeed talk with other people, and yes, maybe one of these two will score the part (or maybe even both, if another role is also suitable), but there’s simply way too much time to even ponder banking one of these two.
If forced to choose, most would immediately jump on the McAvoy side. He’s a very popular talent and his name is oft-attached to possible roles, including the aforementioned Bilbo Baggins. For me personally, I think I would have to lean toward Tom Cruise. The mega-star has clearly had some popularity issues over the past few years, but the man also happens to be incredibly talented. Oh, and let us not forget: the reason del Toro had so much trouble getting At the Mountains of Madness made in the first place was because it has a massive budget, is a horror movie, and requires an R-rating. Pitch that to most studios and they’ll laugh you out of town forever, but when you’re one of the most popular directors working today and you acquire the assistance of one of the most financially successful directors of all time in Cameron as a producer, well, it’s hard for a studio to say no. The point here is that having the name TOM CRUISE in giant letters on your poster will make it a lot easier to score box office success and achieve a profit, which makes it a bit surprising that the preference between director and studio isn’t reversed.
Take this as you will. I, for one, am not holding my breath. Hopefully an official casting announcement — whether it be one of these gentlemen or someone else — comes sooner rather than later. The sooner it comes, the less chance there will be of us having to stroll through the inevitable Johnny Depp rumor.