Will Smith in Focus? Kristen Stewart out?
April 17 update: Kristen Stewart may have a new leading man, according to Variety. Or she may not, according to TheWrap. Please scroll down for more details.
Following Ben Affleck’s departure earlier this year, Stewart was left leading man-less for weeks in writer-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s Focus, about a young and inexperienced con artist who becomes attached to an older pro. To be distributed by Warner Bros., Focus was reportedly to have begun shooting this month.
As per Justin Kroll’s Variety piece on Will Smith’s casting, Smith “is [in] final talks to star in” Focus. That seems to imply that the I Am Legend star and two-time Best Actor Oscar nominee (Ali, The Pursuit of Happyness) hasn’t signed on, yet, though Kroll adds in his piece that “Smith had been weighing the film for some time and has officially committed to joining the pic.” Anyhow, we should be getting final confirmation – or denial – about the latest Focus casting development in the coming days.
Will Smith in? Kristen Stewart out? Focus casting drama
To be produced by Denise DiNovi (The Lucky One, Little Women, Ed Wood), Focus was to have starred Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone – two of the stars in Ficarra and Requa’s Crazy, Stupid, Love (also produced by DiNovi) and in this year’s box office flop Gangster Squad. Scheduling conflicts, however, sent the filmmakers scurrying for replacements.
Brad Pitt was rumored at one point, until Ben Affleck became attached to the project. But then other commitments interfered and Affleck, whose Argo won this year’s Best Picture Academy Award, dropped out of Focus. Kristen Stewart has thus far remained – or rather, had.
According to Variety‘s sources, Warner Bros. “loves the script,” (what else are they going to say?), but a “top-tier actor” was needed to give Focus the go-ahead. As a result of the worldwide box office success of the Twilight Saga franchise co-starring Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, Kristen Stewart has become a household name; even so, Stewart’s box office allure outside the Twilight movies has yet to be fully proven, the solid performance of Rupert Sanders’ Snow White and the Huntsman notwithstanding. Will Smith comes with a strong box office pedigree that dates back nearly two decades.
But then … Kristen Stewart leaves the project as per former Variety columnist Jeff Sneider, now writing for TheWrap. In his piece, Sneider states that “while Kristen Stewart had been attached to star opposite Affleck, she too has recently exited the project, and filmmakers are currently seeking a new female lead closer to Smith’s age.”
It’s unclear why Kristen Stewart’s departure from the project was revealed only today, after Variety‘s announcement that Smith had apparently, possibly, surely, quite likely, confirmed, maybe cast in Focus. Ten minutes after tweeting that Stewart had remained in Focus “as of today,” Kroll tweeted an update stating that she was gone, adding, “there had been speculation that Stewart may [sic] leave the project if Smith committed but when Smith was first approached Stewart remained on pic.”
It’s unclear why Will Smith’s casting would send Kristen Stewart packing. Hey, they’d make a good-looking couple.
Will Smith, Kristen Stewart upcoming movies
Will Smith will next be seen in M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth, co-starring Jaden Smith, Isabelle Fuhrman, and Sophie Okonedo, and which opens via Sony Pictures on June 7. After that, Smith is one of several stars to be seen in Akiva Goldsman’s Winter’s Tale, also featuring Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe, Colin Farrell, Matt Bomer, Jessica Brown Findlay, William Hurt, Kevin Durand, Kevin Corrigan, Lucy Griffiths, Graham Greene, and veteran Oscar winner Eva Marie Saint (On the Waterfront, North by Northwest).
Kristen Stewart, for her part, is currently going through a professional lull, though in the last 24 hours Stewart has had one (not two, as previously reported) project “confirmed”: Snow White and the Huntsman 2. Stewart is also attached to Steven Shainberg’s The Big Shoe, to co-star Elizabeth Banks and Jim Sturgess. Lie Down in Darkness remains, for now, a possibility.
Note: This is a fully revised report on the Will Smith-Kristen Stewart Focus deal following conflicting information from Variety and TheWrap.
Will Smith After Earth image: Columbia Pictures / Sony Pictures.
Ben Affleck: Why no longer co-starring with Kristen Stewart in Focus
Jan. 10 update: Kristen Stewart and Ben Affleck were set to star in Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s con-artist comedy Focus (after first choices Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone dropped out). In fact, Kristen Stewart herself confirmed her participation in Focus after the Internet had been abuzz with rumors for several weeks. But shortly after Stewart’s announcement, Ben Affleck was out of the picture. But why, oh, why did Affleck drop out? (Image: Ben Affleck.)
Rumors created by and for imbeciles notwithstanding – e.g., Ben Affleck’s jealous wife Jennifer Garner made obedient husband leave project following the casting of husband-stealing temptress Kristen Stewart – it seemed pretty clear from the get-go that the actual reason for Affleck’s dropping out of Focus was a scheduling conflict. After all, the formerly potential Best Director Academy Award contender has been keeping busy this awards season, and he has several new projects in the works including an adaptation of Denis Lehane’s (partly) Boston-set, Prohibition Era crime novel Live by Night, which Affleck is also supposed to direct (like Gone Baby Gone, another Boston-set Lehane adaptation).
Live by Night vs. Focus schedules
At the National Board of Review Awards held in New York City last Tuesday, Jan. 8, the Berkeley-born, Boston-raised Ben Affleck, winner of the NBR’s Special Achievement in Filmmaking Award for Argo, told MTV.com‘s Josh Horowitz that “I’m trying to meet [the Live by Night] schedule […] so I can have it released at the right time. And I just hadn’t gotten enough writing done; it became clear that if I took [Focus] and was in Buenos Aires for three months I was going to miss the deadline. I had to choose between getting [Live by Night] out when I wanted to or doing [Focus]. Reluctantly I chose the latter [sic; Affleck clearly meant he chose “the former,” i.e., Live by Night], but I love those guys, I love Kristen. I was really excited to work with her. I think the movie is going to be fabulous. I’m sure they’ll find a great guy for it.”
Curiously, Kristen Stewart’s name is no longer to be found in the IMDb’s cast credits for Focus. Of course, that doesn’t mean she’s out of the picture. Any IMDb editor could have taken her name out. In fact, nothing has been said since Affleck’s departure. No rumored new Stewart co-star has been bandied about so far, either – at least that I’ve seen – even though Focus is supposed to begin shooting in April. Admittedly, there have been casting suggestions aplenty, including Argo co-producer George Clooney, Ben Affleck’s Boston pal Matt Damon, and, needless to say (and though much too young for the role of a veteran con artist), Kristen Stewart’s pal Robert Pattinson.
Also worth mentioning is that I’d no idea that Focus is to be shot in Buenos Aires. At least that’s what I understood from Affleck’s remarks. And if so, here’s wondering if Focus was in any way inspired by Fabián Bielinsky’s intricate Buenos Aires-set, con-vs.-con thriller Nueve reinas / Nine Queens (officially remade as the little-seen Criminal in 2004).
Ben Affleck vs. awards-season competitiveness
Ben Affleck, by the way, claims he hasn’t become prey of awards-season competitiveness. Affleck told Josh Horowitz he tries “to focus on honestly being glad that I’m here and get invited to stuff like” the National Board of Review Awards. That’s a good thing, considering the Academy Awards 2013 nominations announcement made (very) early this morning – Affleck, a shoo-in for a Best Director nod, was bypassed. Even so, the former Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, and Gigli star, and Oscar-winning Good Will Hunting co-screenwriter is still in the running for Oscar 2013, as he’s one of the producers of Best Picture nominee Argo. Also, minutes ago Ben Affleck was named the Best Director winner at the Critics’ Choice Awards ceremony.
Kristen Stewart next movie projects
As for Kristen Stewart, her other movie project is the long-rumored Snow White and the Huntsman sequel, which was confirmed about a couple of weeks ago. We’ll have more on Snow White and the Huntsman 2 in an upcoming post.
And in case you’re wondering, Ben Affleck’s upcoming Live by Night has no connection whatsoever with either Twilight vampires or They Lived by Night, Nicholas Ray’s 1948 film noir starring Farley Granger and Cathy O’Donnell.
Ben Affleck photo: Details magazine.
Ben Affleck out of Focus. Also, Affleck to run for political office?
Ben Affleck won’t play Kristen Stewart’s lover/mentor con artist in Focus due to an “increasingly busy schedule,” according to Variety‘s Justin Kroll. Citing unnamed sources “close to” the actor, the report adds that Affleck, a Golden Globe Best Director nominee for the political thriller Argo, “very much wanted to do the film, [but] the timing just couldn’t be worked out.” (Image: Ben Affleck.)
Written and to be directed by Crazy, Stupid, Love‘s Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, Focus is a comedy about the romantic and professional relationship between a veteran con artist (no longer Ben Affleck) and a newcomer (Kristen Stewart).
Ben Affleck is currently working on Live by Night, which, like Argo, will have him wearing multiple hats: writer, director, producer, and actor. Among Affleck’s myriad other projects (whether on paper, or on rumor) listed on the IMDb are The Stand, Nathan Decker, Race to the South Pole, Father Daughter Time: A Tale of Armed Robbery and Eskimo Kisses, and an untitled Whitey Bulger project.
Then there’s Argo, which is expected to receive multiple Oscar nominations, and which actor-director-producer Ben Affleck must hawk around this awards season. In fact, Affleck is a potential – or rather, all-but-inevitable – DGA Award and Best Director Academy Award nominee.
Senator Ben Affleck?
And last but not least, Ben Affleck may follow in the footsteps of George Murphy, Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Glenda Jackson (in the UK), and several Filipino actors and enter the realm of politics.
Affleck was in Washington this week to discuss violence in the Congo*. While there, he was asked about potentially running for the Massachusetts Senate seat in case Democratic Senator John Kerry replaces Hillary Rodham Clinton as the next U.S. Secretary of State. According to Politico, Affleck responded, “That’s not what I’m here to talk about.” Which means Affleck may be running for office. (Or he may not.)
Anyhow, no wonder Ben Affleck should have trouble getting ready for Focus’ scheduled April 2013 start date. As for (liberal) actors running for office, what’s wrong with that? Who would you rather have, corporate heads representing the interests of their (officially) former companies?
Kristen Stewart needs new leading man
Now, who’ll be replacing Ben Affleck (already a replacement for Ryan Gosling) in Focus? And will Kristen Stewart (a replacement for first-choice Emma Stone) stay on board?
Needless to say, some fans have been suggesting Robert Pattinson as a potential Affleck substitute. Never mind the fact that, however likable and capable, Pattinson is much too young for the role. My suggestion: Is George Clooney available? How about Matt Damon? Here’s another: Brad Pitt. (A couple of commenters have suggested Matt Bomer and James Franco. See below.)
And here’s hoping Kristen Stewart will stay in Focus; after all, for the time being that’s the one project she has for 2013, as both Lie Down in Darkness and Snow White and the Huntsman 2 remain up in the air (at least we’ve had no official confirmation on them so far).
Addendum: Why would Kristen Stewart not stay on board? Well, I raised the issue for a simple reason: Oftentimes, actors become attached to a project because of the professional prestige / box office caliber of their fellow player(s). If their co-star drops out, so do they. That’s not at all uncommon, and raising the issue doesn’t mean I’m resorting to cheap drama. Really.
* As someone who pays close attention to the world we live in, you ask: “But which Congo is Affleck talking about?” Most journalists reporting on the Ben Affleck testimony apparently don’t know there are two. He discussed the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly known as Zaire, and site of one of the world’s deadliest conflicts since World War II.
Ben Affleck quote via the Christian Science Monitor.
Kristen Stewart in Focus confirmed by Stewart herself
Kristen Stewart will indeed be seen in Focus, opposite Argo director / star Ben Affleck, which should begin shooting April 2013. Glenn Ficarra and John Requa are reportedly the writers / director of the comedy about an inexperienced con artist (Stewart) who joins forces (and more) with a veteran (Affleck). [Photo: Kristen Stewart.]
Stewart told HuffPost Entertainment, “I can confirm that rumor. … I’m really excited about it.” No word – for now – on the rumored Snow White and the Huntsman 2, a sequel to Stewart’s worldwide blockbuster directed by Rupert Sanders, and co-starring Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, and Sam Caflin, or on the adaptation of William Styron’s novel Lie Down in Darkness, in which Stewart is supposedly to have the lead role.
Anyone with a ‘micro-project’ available for Kristen Stewart?
Kristen Stewart also told HuffPost that she “would love to find some micro-project before then, because April [when she’ll be turning 23] is kind of a ways away.” Snow White and the Huntsman 2 doesn’t sound very “micro,” but Lie Down in Darkness might fit the bill. Else, unless Focus is ready for release in late fall / early winter 2013, there’ll be no Kristen Stewart on movie-theater marquees until sometime in 2014. If so, as per the IMDb that’ll be Stewart’s first full calendar year “big-screen hiatus” since 2006. (There were no less than three Stewart releases in 2012.)
That is, if you ignore the fact that in early 2013 Kristen Stewart will remain very much in evidence on the big screen in Bill Condon’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, co-starring Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, in addition to a key supporting role in Walter Salles’ On the Road, co-starring Garrett Hedlund and Sam Riley. On the Road, which was initially screened at the Cannes Film Festival and later reedited before its Toronto Film Festival bow, opens in North America on December 21.
In addition to the aforementioned titles, recent Kristen Stewart movies include four other Twilight Saga entries – Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight, Chris Weitz’s New Moon, David Slade’s Eclipse, and Condon’s Breaking Dawn – Part 1 – plus Floria Sigismondi’s The Runaways, Jake Scott’s Welcome to the Rileys, and Greg Mottola’s Adventureland.
Kristen Stewart: Focus is latest movie project announcement
Walter Salles’ On the Road, starring Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley, and Kristen Stewart, will be screened this evening at 8:00 p.m. at Los Angeles’ AFI FEST (at Grauman’s Chinese). Last night, the Internet was abuzz with news that Stewart “is in talks” to join Ben Affleck in Warner Bros.’ con-artist movie Focus, to be directed by Crazy, Stupid, Love‘s Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. (Image: Kristen Stewart.)
If the “talking” leads to the signing of a contract, Kristen Stewart will play an inexperienced grifter who begins a relationship in crime and romance with Ben Affleck’s veteran. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, both of whom had been featured in Crazy, Stupid, Love, had originally been announced as Focus’ potential stars.
Other recently announced Kristen Stewart projects: Cali, Lie Down in Darkness
Earlier this year, it was announced that Stewart was going to play another con artist – I mean, selling a fake snuff film? – in Cali. Alex Pettyfer was to have been her (potential) leading man. Stewart, however, dropped out of the project shortly after she became tabloid fodder following the publication of photos showing the actress being physically “intimate” with her Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders.
Another announced Kristen Stewart project is Lie Down in Darkness. In early August, Stewart became reportedly “attached” to the film adaptation of William Styron’s 1951 novel. If Lie Down in Darkness does get made with Stewart, she’ll play a troubled young woman from a highly dysfunctional Southern family.
Kristen Stewart’s upcoming movies
Near the end of 2012, Kristen Stewart will be seen in no less than two movies on North American screens: Bill Condon’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, co-starring Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, opens on Nov. 16. On the Road opens Dec. 21.
Also featured at Breaking Dawn – Part 2 are Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Billy Burke, Dakota Fanning, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz, Michael Sheen, Maggie Grace, and Booboo Stewart. The On the Road cast includes Amy Adams, Viggo Mortensen, Tom Sturridge, Kirsten Dunst, Danny Morgan, Alice Braga, and Elisabeth Moss.
Focus casting article initially posted by André Soares.
Who will take the female lead now? Jennifer Lawrence? Assuming she has a break between Hunger Games episodes & Bradley Cooper co-starring takes.
Tam: Hollywood frequently casts these young actresses with older guys and don’t bat an eyelash. In this case supposedly it is part of the script. So neither pairing was surprising to me. Someone pointed out how young Stewart still looks despite being 23 years. And that was a good observation, she could easily and believably still play a teenager-maybe it didn’t look too good on paper or real life if they even had a meeting.
When Humphrey Bogart married Lauren Bacall (this was back in 1945, when people apparently weren’t so puritanical), she was 21. He was 46. They’d been lovers for a year or so prior to that, while Bogart was still married to take-no-prisoners Mayo Methot. Also in 1945, their first movie pairing came out, Henry Hathaway’s To Have and Have Not.
I’m not justifying adultery, though their situation was quite complex and certainly not for me (or anybody else) to judge. But for people to obsess on the age difference between Kristen Stewart and Will Smith is pretty silly. They’re two adults who would look great together, much like Susan Sarandon (who’s like, what, 65?) would look great in a movie with Zac Efron or Robert Pattinson. (And not as their mother or aunt or grandma, or some desexualized mature woman.) It’d freak some people out, perhaps, but then again, Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal freaked out a lot of people in “Brokeback Mountain.” That’s how it goes.
Ah, and let’s not forget that interethnic love stories remain taboo in American movies. Kristen Stewart and Will Smith kissing or making out in “Focus” would have helped to get rid of that idiocy.
2 possibilities: Will Smith joined the project and took script/plot in a different direction that Stewart wasn’t happy with so she left.
Smith had Stewart axed when he signed on.
If 40 year old Affleck was OK why would 44 year old Smith not be?
I see that M. Night Shyamalan is still at it, despite all odds.
It looks like they kicked her out the moment they got Will Smith. I don’t why people find the coupling Will-Kristen weird but not Affleck-Kristen. The guys have the same age. It was already weird when she signed in.
RE: A replacement for Affleck, my wife and I went outside the box. We’re honing for Will Smith.
You all came up with some good choices, I like Matthew Bomer and James Franco, and I think
either one of them would be a great choice. I wouldn’t mind seeing Colin Farrell and Kristen in a movie together either. I was thinking Jeremy Renner too but don’t know if he can do
comedy. But, I really like him too.
I want to see a movie with Stewart and shia labeouf , colin farrell or Zach Galifianakis soner or later.
Would love to see Brad Pitt do this. He could use a well written comedy and he and Kristen could have great chem.
I’m hoping it goes to Matt Bomer I love him in white collar so it won’t be a stretch to see him in this role
I hope the roll goes to someone like James Franco - he’s the perfect age and he’s an incredible actor.
Thanks mucho Andre!
cont. from last post…….
So when an actor talks about “being sent a script” or “reading lots of scripts” they must be referring to a film that already has financing in place or a spec script.
Gotta thank you for making me dig some more into this.
Here’s a fascinating read:
The screenplay can come later if it’s an in-house production at a studio. Must be available (at least in some form; it’s unclear if he’s referring to the final shooting script) *before* financing if it’s an independently made production. But then again, the filmmakers *must* get financing of some sort *before* developing the screenplay and other aspects of those early pre-production stages. So, it’s two different “financing” steps: The first one for development of the project and finding a star/director to become attached; the second one is for actually producing the film. (And a third for distributing it.)
The screenplay can come “later,” after the (partial) funding for development. In Australia, where Robert Pattinson’s “The Rover” got partial financing for its actual production.
look at that, 2 mediocre actors trying to do a Movie. Ben should stick to directing his acting is as bad as Screws..its a guarantied Flop
I’m very excited to see Kristen in this movie! She brings an unparalleled enthusiasm and love to each of her roles, so I always love to watch her work. And I’m especially psyched to see her in such a departure. She’s never done a movie in this genre. I know she loves to challenge herself and I foresee her pulling this off as she always does!
Wow ..! Wonderful news. So glad that “Kristen Stewart” a multi-talented,smart,beautiful,super intelligent and the best of all the actresses is doing this movie with none other than the best “Ben Affleck”. ….:)
Kristen Rocks …! “east or west Kristen Stewart is the best “
I am so glad to see Kristen has confirmed Focus. I’m also excited to see her working with Ben Affleck. I’ll miss not seeing her in any new projects. But, I’ll have the 28 movies she’s already done to look at until I can see her in Focus. :)
I just don’t see the chemistry working there. Sorry.
I’m really excited for her from what i’ve been reading this sounds interesting and i’m excited. Kinda bummed I won’t be seeing her on the big screen in 2013 but she’s been working so hard for the past couple years i’m happy she’s getting a break. maybe now the media can go pick on someone else and leave her in peace. As for LDID that needs to be made that is an oscar worthy movie and I can see her excelling as Peyton. I just hope they don’t deviate from the book
The script is already write, they just need the financing
Thanks Andre. I always wonder how Hollywood works. I personally would think a script would necessarily come first, but the deal makers prob. just figure they can hire a writer later.?
Yes it is from that Joan Crawford movie with H. Fonda and D. Andrews. Directed by Preminger who did not want to cast Joanie! lol
One key problem with having the screenplay written before the filmmakers/producers get financing is that they have to *pay* the screenwriter. That’s why, I’d say, an outline would be more “logical” at such an early stage.
I’ve yet to watch that Joan Crawford movie, though I have it here on DVD…
Some comments posted here are abusive and inflammatory. They are nothing to do with the movie that’s being discussed. If youd don’t want to wacth the movie because of the actor or actress don’t watch it- no one is forcing you. Stop acting like kids and while you are at it drop the holier than thou attitude.
Is there a script yet for LDID? Or can a script come later even after a deal is made?
It can certainly come later, though some kind of outline should be available.
Now, is your name an homage to that Joan Crawford movie of 1946????
Ben Affleck and Kristen Stewart share the same media experiences. I remember what it was like for him when he was dating Jennifer Lopez. Brutal. No wonder they are in this film together. Comedies are always in great demand. Good luck to them.
She is a riot!! She can bring right wing women to the floor. They are crazy about her in a sick way. One sexy number . Good choice. Go Ben!
“Focus” does sound lightweight for Kristen after the good run she’s had starting with “Into the Wild”. (I know, I know, Twilight is *extremely* lightweight, but the role did have importance for a not insubstantial segment of the youth culture that loved the books). Would actually prefer to see her with (quirky) Casey Affleck instead of Ben. But perhaps this will show she can do comedy. “Lie Down in Darkness” is not a micro-project - it’s pretty epic if the screenplay follows the novel. The potential for casting of the dysfunctional family is pretty epic too - e.g., Daniel Day-Lewis, Kristen, & someone like Julianne Moore playing her mother - hopefully it will get financing soon, after DDL cleans up during this awards season.
I’m very excited to see Kristen in Focus. It must be something special if Ben Affleck is going to be starring in it. There is no one hotter in Hollywood right now. I’m glad Kristen’s hard work is paying off and she’s getting to work with some of the best Hollywood. The future seems very bright for her, even if there is a small lull.
I’m exited that by 2014 nobdy will care about that untalented Actress. That Movie doesn’t sound exiting and by then , Twatlight fans will have someone else to cheer for. Stewart has no Draw Power
I’m excited ti know that there’ll be no Kristen Stewart in theaters until 2014.
Geez, another boring, cliche, forgettable typical HW film coming up. I would really hope to see LESS of Kristen Stewart in the screen. Emma Stone would have been perfect on this role. Stewart on the other hand is so boring and one dimensional actress. She is plain lucky she played a well loved fairy tale character like Snow white and the film had a mediocre success worldwide. Any actress would have done much better.
Hohohoho iam so exited for FOCUS!!! go Kristen
That’s exciting news that Focus will be shot in the 2nd quarter of 2013.
Como pueden cambiar a gosling y emma stone por la trampire y ben afleck? es increible!!
from Emma Stone to Kristen Stewart, NO just NO its like Meryl Streep being replaced by Kim Kardashian. NOt good
Andre: Try the Josh Horowitz interview. She says she is very interested, but doesn’t know if film will be made with her.
I believe that Kristen Stewart said Lie Down in Darkness has been erroneously attached to her-via “the internet.” This was during an interview in Toronto.
Thanks. I haven’t seen that. I was looking for it just now, but haven’t been able to find that interview.
But the “Kristen Stewart in ‘Lie Down in Darkness'” article I linked to explains that the “attachment” announcement was deemed premature and that it didn’t mean Stewart would actually star in the film if it ever got made.
Focus sounds intriguing with both Affleck and Stewart.