Could Hail Caesar be the best ensemble Joel and Ethan Coen have had to work with?
That’s a tall order – and a claim that could be debated for days – but the brothers are putting together one hell of a cast for the upcoming comedy, and three tantalizing names have just joined the fray. THR reports that Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton and Ralph Fiennes are in negotiations to assume roles in the growing Hail Caesar production. The trade even elaborates on the parts that they would play, should everyone sign on the dotted line. Tatum, fresh off his turn in 22 Jump Street, would play "a Gene Kelly-type star." Fiennes, last seen in Wes Anderson’s winning The Grand Budapest Hotel, would play studio director Laurence Lorenz. Swinton (who was Fiennes lover in Anderson’s Hotel) has been tapped to play "a powerful Hollywood gossip columnist." Get your Nikke Finke comparative think pieces ready.
Joel and Ethan Coen’s Hail Caesar will be set in Hollywood during the industry’s Golden Age. It will focus on a character named Eddie Mannix, who is employed by the major studios to keep their movie stars out of the columns penned by Tilda Swinton’s character. And because the Coens have cast frequent collaborator George Clooney as Mannix, we might finally be getting the Michael Clayton reunion you all have been begging for! (I’m not kidding. Watch this incredible, spoilery clip featuring Swinton and Clooney from the end of that underraed movie.)
Clooney isn’t the only "old hat" on the hook for Hail Caesar. The Coen Brothers also have hired Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men) for an undetermined part in the comedy. Sit by your phones, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, John Goodman and Frances McDormand. The Coens seem to be getting key members of the band back together, and that means your numbers might soon be called.
Swinton, of course, had a taste of the Coen Brothers’ trademark lunacy when she participated in Burn After Reading. Also with George Clooney. Seriously, this is like one giant high school reunion!
Just don’t tell her that she hammers.
As to whether or not this is the best ensemble Joel and Ethan Coen have had to work with, I think we have to wait to see how the pieces fit in Hail Caesar before rushing to any judgment. For now, this seems like a fantastic assemblage of talents, especially giving the Coens a few familiar faces, and some exciting new players (like Tatum and Fiennes) who are proving capable of comedy in movies by the likes of Wes Anderson, Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Hail Caesar should be a gem.