James Marsden & Rupert Friend Replacing Paul Walker in Two Films
by Ethan Anderton
January 10, 2014
While Universal has figured out they will be pushing back the release and Fast & Furious 7 to 2015, due to the untimely and tragic death of franchise star Paul Walker (who will be retired, and not killed off, in the sequel), there are a couple other projects which had the actor lined up to star that needed to be sorted out as well. Fox International had Walker slated to star in the action thriller Agent 47 (a sequel to Hitman starring Timothy Olyphant), and Relativity had the actor taking on romance in the adaptation of Nicholas Sparks' bestselling novel The Best of Me. Now two other actors have been hired to take over those roles.
On the action front, THR reports Fox International has decided to give "Homeland" star Rupert Friend the lead role in the sequel scripted by A Good Day to Die Hard writer Skip Woods, Kyle Ward and Michael Finch. Commercial director Aleksander Bach is directing the film (we previewed his work here) and the film follows the video game hero on some sort of unknown new mission. Aside from his current run on the aforementioned Showtime series, Friend has also been seen in period dramas like The Young Victoria and Pride & Prejudice. It's sad Walker isn't around to do the film anymore, but hopefully Friend makes it work.
Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the spectrum, Deadline has word that James Marsden has an offer to replace Walker in the presumably cheesy romance from Nicholas Sparks. Seems a bit odd since Marsden already starred in the adaptation of The Notebook, but this isn't the Marvel universe, so no one is going to pitch a fit. Marsden would star alongside Michelle Monaghan (Mission: Impossible III), and landed the role over Magic Mike star Joe Manganiello. The film from The Last Station and One Fine Day director Michael Hoffman follows two former high school sweethearts reunited after 20 years apart. When they return to their small town for the funeral of a beloved friend. Their bittersweet reunion reignites their love, but the forces that drove them apart get in the way again. Sounds like your average Sparks story.