Teams meet again on new film projects


Familiar stars will be playing familiar characters in upcoming movies, such as Brad Pitt as Jesse James in The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, and Cate Blanchett in the title role of Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

Hollywood may not have a Harry Potter, Spider-Man, Shrek or Capt. Jack Sparrow on its upcoming lineup. Yet the fall and holiday schedule does offer filmgoers a chance to catch up with some familiar characters, stories and movie-making teams.

It’ll be reunion season for actors and filmmakers such as Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott (American Gangster); Cate Blanchett and Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth: The Golden Age); Nicolas Cage and Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure: Book Of Secrets); Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton (Sweeney Todd); and Ben Stiller and the Farrelly brothers (The Heartbreak Kid). It’ll be reacquaintance season for some classic characters in Robert Zemeckis’ retelling of the Norse legend Beowulf; Fred Claus, a North Pole comedy about Santa (Paul Giamatti) and his black-sheep brother (Vince Vaughn); and I Am Legend, with Will Smith in a new take on the sci-fi thriller The Omega Man.

There’s even the return of a venerable genre, the Western, which has fallen on hard times in modern Hollywood. Crowe and Christian Bale star in the remake 3:10 To Yuma, about a poor rancher helping to escort a captured gang leader, while a second Old West tale comes close on its heels with The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Brad Pitt, starring as James, said his own celebrity helped him sympathize with the outlaw, whose notoriety as a heroic Robin Hood figure was heavily fabricated.

“I liked the themes of fame, the obsession with fame. The idea of the Jesse James character being trapped behind a facade and not knowing how to get out,” said Pitt, who plays James in the last year of his life as he lapses into paranoia over potential betrayal by accomplices and intimates, including young idolizer Ford (Casey Affleck). In other fall films, Crowe plays a New York cop to Denzel Washington’s Harlem crime kingpin in director Scott’s American Gangster and Stiller rejoins the Farrellys, who directed him in There’s Something About Mary, for The Heartbreak Kid, about a man who meets the perfect woman — on his honeymoon with another bride.