Casting: Bryan Cranston, Brit Marling, Russell Crowe, and Gerard Butler in New

Actor Russell CroweWhile the economy might still be mired in a slump, actors and casting agents are keeping busy. Don’t take our word for it – just check out some of the latest casting news and rumors floating around Hollywood.

— Deadline says Russell Crowe has now officially signed on to co-star in Allen Hughes’ Broken City. The occasionally cantankerous Crowe will star alongside Mark Wahlberg in the independently financed noir flick, which finds Wahlberg playing a detective investigating whether or not the Mayor’s (Crowe) wife is having an affair. When the guy she’s sleeping around with turns up dead, Wahlberg turns his attentions toward Crowe’s character – and uncovers some of the politician’s shady dealings. Sounds sort of like a modern riff on Chinatown.

Gerard Butler may have passed on the part of Snake Plissken in the now dead Escape from New York remake, but don’t feel bad for the actor – he’s lined up some other gigs, and thankfully his latest isn’t some silly romantic comedy. According to THR, Butler is now set to star in The Bricklayer – a film based on a Noah Boyd novel. Butler will tackle the role of a rogue former FBI agent who’s called back into duty to help battle a criminal organization demanding multimillion dollar ransom payments.

— Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston’s name seems to turn up in at least one casting rumor story per day – and this weekend was no exception. THR reported that the actor is now in talks to join Brad Pitt’s World War Z. The film, which is an adaptation of the Max Brooks book of the same name, deals with accounts from survivors in the wake of the zombie holocaust. Cranston is reportedly considering a small, but important, role in the film. We’d love to see Cranston in this role – but we still find it disconcerting that the dad from Malcolm in the Middle is now playing a meth dealer in a television drama. Kudos to Cranston for not getting stuck in the typecasting trap.

— Finally, Variety is reporting that Another Earth actress Brit Marling is set to join the cast of Robert Redford’s political thriller The Company You Keep. Redford pulls double duty – directing and starring in the film – which finds him playing a former militant forced to go on the run when a young reporter (Shia LaBeouf, naturally…) uncovers his identity. Nick Nolte is also part of the project.  

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