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WIth a release date set for Christmas of 2014 and Oscar-nominated Beasts of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhane Wallis all set to lead it, the latest movie version of Annie is happening-- and now that it's not just a vehicle for Will Smith to make his daughter a movie star, it actually seems pretty promising. Easy A and Friends With Benefits director Will Gluck is on board to bring his light touch to the proceedings, and now a new rumor says he might bring more than that, potentially teaming up with a star who might be even bigger than producer Will Smith.
Granted, this is a rumor that originated at The New York Post, but bear with us here. They say "Hollywood sources are buzzing" that none other than Justin Timberlake is being considered for the Daddy Warbucks role, the man who adopts Annie from the orphanage as a PR stunt and eventually grows to love her. Timberlake starred for Gluck in Friends with Benefits, and perhaps even more importantly he collaborated with Jay-Z on his new single "Suit and Tie"; Jay-Z is on board to produce and "reimagine" the music for the Annie film, and you can easily imagine him wanting to offer the biggest male role to a guy whose musical talents he already knows quite well.
Though his return to music is currently getting him the most attention, Timberlake has a strong handful of movie roles coming up, including a role in the Coen Brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis and teaming up with none other than Ben Affleck for the gambling drama Runner Runner. Who knows if he has the time on his schedule for Annie, but at least the film's production probably won't get in the way of this summer's planned tour, since Jay-Z will be there with him.
I like the idea of Justin Timberlake in a musical, especially one that will likely have songs catered toward his talents. But the potential racial undertones of casting a white man to adopt and change the life of a little black girl are noxious and impossible to ignore, and it's hard for me to imagine that an Annie movie bold enough to change the race of the lead character will keep Daddy Warbucks as a benevolent white man. I could absolutely be wrong, and given how many smart marketers are behind this movie-- Will Smith and Jay-Z primary among them-- it's not hard to imagine them being able to present it in a perfectly acceptable way. But it seems to make much more sense to cast a black actor as Daddy Warbucks-- maybe even Will Smith himself. Given how sketchy this rumor is to begin with, I'd be really surprised if Timberlake wound up with the role in the end.
Should Justin Timberlake play Daddy Warbucks in the Annie remake?