Brad Pitt might not want to “Play,” but Universal Pictures is hoping Russell Crowe does.
According to Variety, the studio is trying to convince Crowe to replace Pitt in “State of Play,” the film which Pitt backed out of last week over reported creative differences.
While Universal claims Pitt bailed on his commitment, leaving the door open for what they claim is a possible breach-of-contract lawsuit against the star, reps for Pitt claim he was essentially forced out of a movie he’d been anxious to star in for nearly two years because the studio wouldn’t wait for a strike resolution that would allow rewrites to occur.
The film would’ve seen Pitt as a political consultant-turned-journalist who helps investigate the death of a congressman’s mistress.
It also would have re-teamed Pitt with his “Fight Club” co-star Edward Norton, who would play the aforementioned congressman.
“State of Play,” was also set to star Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman and Robin Wright Penn.
However, if Crowe can’t fit the role into his schedule (he is slated to begin shooting Ridley Scott’s “Nottingham” in March), “State of Play” could be in jeopardy, Variety noted.
While other big names, including Tom Hanks and Johnny Depp, could also fill the void after their respective filming commitments are over, the studio is worried it won’t be in time to keep the rest of the high-caliber cast in place, according to Variety.
Despite being attached to the project for the last 16 months and even having a hand in selecting his co-stars and the director, Pitt was never able to see eye-to-eye with the studio on the script, Variety reports.
After several rewrites, Pitt reportedly wanted to wait until the Writers Guild strike was settled for a final version that he hoped would bring the film closer to his vision of the project. However, Universal was eager to stick to its late 2008 release date and apparently encouraged Pitt to go with the script as is.
Despite postponing the production start date, the studio announced Pitt’s departure the day before Thanksgiving.
If the studio follows through on a lawsuit, it won’t be the first time they’ve gone after an actor. Universal filed a breach-of-contract suit against Mike Myers in 1998 when he left “Dieter” because he was unhappy with the script. A settlement was eventually reached.