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Willem Dafoe, Peace-Loving Alien From Mars

Defiant Defoe: Willem Dafoe has joined John Carter of Mars, which revolves around warring factions on the title planet and a Civil War soldier (Taylor Kitsch) transported into the thick of things. Dafoe will play Tars Tarkas, the leader of the Tharks, who knows he must steer his people away from war. That’s some solid casting — if an alien spaceship ever did land on Earth, and then the door opened and a whole bunch of Willem Dafoe–looking aliens came out, we would not be surprised at all. [HR]

Country Roads: Straw Dogs, the remake of the 1971 Sam Peckinpah film about a husband (Dustin Hoffman as a mathematician in the original, James Marsden as a Hollywood screenwriter the new one) who moves south to his wife’s hometown and encounters some trouble with the locals, has added a few cast members: Kate Bosworth will play Marsden's actress wife, and Alexander Skarsgård (Eric from True Blood) will play the wife’s high-school boyfriend, a former local football star. The search for an anthropomorphic dog made of straw continues. [Variety]

High Pursuit: Taken director Pierre Morel will direct Pursuit, a thriller based on the early life of war photographer Jason Howe, who fell in love with a woman while on assignment in Colombia and subsequently discovered she was an assassin. We don’t know how Howe figured it out, but we’re guessing it has something to do with repeated losses in GoldenEye for Nintendo 64. [Variety]

On Track: Patrick Dempsey will star in The Art of Racing in the Rain, an adaptation of the Garth Stein novel that features the inner thoughts of Enzo, a family dog, as he recounts the lessons he learned from his master, the race-car driver Denny Swift. Wonderful. Just wonderful. [Variety]

Footeing the Bill: Horton Foote’s The Orphans’ Home Cycle — nine semi-autobiographical works set in the fictional town of Harrison, Texas, divided into three parts and encompassing nine hours altogether — will feature Bill Heck as the protagonist, Horace Robedaux, and Maggie Lacey as his wife, Elizabeth. The plays come to Off Broadway in November and will be staged individually, as well as — for those theater thrill seekers — in one-day marathons. [Variety]

Three Kings: Seth Gordon is in talks to direct King Dork, the adaptation of Frank Portman’s YA novel about a harassed high schooler who takes refuge in music while trying to find out the truth about his father, who died while combing through some books (?). Gordon directed The King of Kong, and is signed on for a feature adaptation of the documentary; that means King Dork could complete his prestigious, arbitrary “movies with the word 'king' in the title” trilogy. [HR]

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