The pulp romance The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman has been gaining buzz fast as it hurtles toward a May start date. First came word that Shia LaBeouf had signed on to play the titular protagonist whose life is in peril after falling hard for a gangster's moll. Shortly thereafter Evan Rachel Wood (The Ides of March) and Mads Mikkelsen (After the Wedding, Casino Royale) committed to play the girl and the gangster respectively. And now Variety has word that German hunk Til Schweiger and Oscar-winner Melissa Leo have joined the cast, giving this pulp pick a gritty allure.

Though an A-lister in his native land, Schweiger is best-known Stateside for brawny roles of merciless men like Sergeant Hugo Stigiltz of Inglourious Basterds. The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman follows suit, lining Schweiger up to portray Darko, a paramilitary fighter turned Serbian gangster who runs a strip club in Budapest after escaping the grasp of a war crimes tribunal. It sounds likely he and Mikkelsen's characters will be colleagues, and with two such serious movie badasses as his antagonists, I'm thinking LeBeouf may need to beef up if he's to credibly survive.

For her part, Leo will play LaBeouf's dead but not gone mother, whose spirit lingers to advise her troubled son. While this device sounds like something out of Woody Allen, the fact that Leo's been tapped suggests a role with some more meat to it than a nagging ghost mom. Leo's shown in Frozen River and The Fighter that she can get gritty, and so seems a shrewd choice for this peculiar picture that becomes more intriguing by the day.

The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman is slated to go into production next month in Eastern Europe.

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