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Industry Roundup: Swank Signs On to Dying Heart, Hoffman Joins Pair of Films

Swanky: Hilary Swank has signed on to star in Dreams of a Dying Heart, a "post-Iraq war film," directed by Shawn Lawrence Otto, in which a soldier (Swank) struggles to readjust to civilian life after she survives a combat-chopper crash during her time in the Army. Ultimately, she becomes plagued by ghostly visions and nightmares. "When I first read the screenplay for Dreams of a Dying Heart I was on an airplane and I couldn't put it down," Swank said. "By the end, I was weeping. The same thing happened to me with Million Dollar Baby." Translation: "After that whole Amelia mess, this better get me Oscar No. 3." [Variety]

Dustin's Duo: Dustin Hoffman has signed on to star in Nightwork, an adaptation of Irwin Shaw’s novel, a caper about a man who finds a fortune hidden in a hotel corpse and then must flee, evading the treasure’s actual owners. Additionally, Hoffman will star alongside Anthony Hopkins in The Song of Names, based on the award-winning novel by Norman Lebrecht. This one tells the story of two Jewish boys, a Polish refugee and a violin prodigy; the prodigy vanishes on the eve of his international debut — 40 years later, the refugee attempts to unravel the mystery of what happened to his brother. Seems a safe bet he's gonna find him, since otherwise, uh, who is the other actor gonna play? [Deadline, HR]

20,000 x 2: Disney is in negotiations with David Fincher to direct and Scott Z. Burns (The Bourne Ultimatum) to write 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, an updated take on the Jules Verne story “about a group of men who encounter a vengeful scientific genius and his warlike submarine.” Meanwhile, Fox is moving forward with its own version of the tale, produced by Ridley and Tony Scott and with a script from Clash of the Titans co-scribe Travis Beacham. Competing projects on the same subject: so trendy right now. [Heat Vision/HR]

Time to Kill: Zoe Saldana is in early negotiations to star in Columbiana, about a young woman who witnesses her parents’ murder as a child and then grows up to become a "stone-cold assassin." She’s a hit man during the day, and she spends her nights searching for the mobster responsible for her parents’ death. Sounds like a cross between Dexter Morgan and Lost's Sawyer, with a sprinkling of Lara Croft. [Heat Vision/HR]

Passengers Seat: Morgan Creek has licensed Passengers, directed by Gabriele Muccino and starring Keanu Reeves. Set in the future, the film follows a mechanic (Reeves) on a 120-year journey to a faraway colonized planet, who wakes up 100 years too soon and is subsequently stranded in the “world of an interstellar spaceship” with only robots and androids to keep him company. A year later, he decides to wake his fellow passenger — a “beautiful journalist” named Aurora; of course, they fall in love, though they must deal with “the revelation of [his] misjudged act of waking her” as well as a malfunction of their ship, which — at least to us — seem to be issues of slightly different magnitudes. [HR]

Tall Dark Stranger: Adrien Brody has joined Woody Allen’s romantic comedy Midnight in Paris, which will begin shooting this summer in Paris. The large cast already includes Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Michael Sheen, and Carla Bruni. As if this group isn't glistening enough on its own, Brody’s role is described as “flashy.” [HR]

On a Loop: Bruce Willis is joining the cast of Looper, a sci-fi time-travel tale starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and directed by Rian Johnson. Willis will be playing the older version of Gordon-Levitt’s character in the film, which is sort of surprising, right? We envision grown-up JG-L as more of a Hugh Jackman type. [Deadline]

The Couple That Slashes Together ... : Real-life couple Marilyn Manson and Evan Rachel Wood will star in David Gordon Green’s “retro slasher film” Splatter Sisters, described as a “sexploitation-serial-killer-slasher-road-movie circa 1989.” Green said of the project: "This is a role Marilyn Manson was born to play, and with Evan Rachel Wood bringing dramatic gravity to the ensemble, I have no doubt this will take the horror genre to a new level." Let's hope they don't break up again during filming, or this could get ugly. [Variety]

Among the Elite: Robert De Niro will star opposite Jason Statham and Clive Owen in The Killer Elite, directed by Gary McKendry. De Niro will play the mentor of Stratham’s character, who has to come out of retirement when De Niro’s character is kidnapped by the enemy. Unclear who Clive Owen is playing, but we're just going to guess he spends much of the movie in a trench coat. [Variety]

Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty Images