Casting: Freeman, Olsen, Cooper, Neill, Bibb

Morgan Freeman has scored the first role in Timur Bekmambetov’s upcoming new take on Lew Wallace’s novel “Ben-Hur” for MGM and Paramount. Shooting begins in Europe early next year.

Freeman will play Ildarin, the man who teaches the slave Ben-Hur to become a champion-caliber chariot racer. Keith Clarke wrote the script and John Ridley did the rewrite. [Source: Deadline]

I Saw the Light
Elizabeth Olsen will team with Tom Hiddleston in the Marc Abraham-directed Hank Williams biopic “I Saw the Light” for RatPac Entertainment, Bron Studios and Creative Wealth Media Finance. Olsen will play Williams’ wife Audrey Mae in the film which begins shooting next month in Louisiana.

Williams was born in 1923 in Alabama and broke out in the post-World War II era with numerous hit songs. He also suffered from spina bifida and died at age 29 after struggling with alcoholism and addiction to prescription drugs. [Source: Variety]

Chris Cooper will join Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts in Jean-Marc Vallee’s “Demolition”. Filming begins next Monday in New York City.

The story is based on the Black List script by Bryan Sipe about a young investment banker struggling to understand his emotional unraveling after the tragic death of his wife. He soon has a chance encounter with a woman that changes his life forever. [Source: Deadline]

The Daughter
Sam Neill and Miranda Otto will join Geoffrey Rush, Ewen Leslie, Paul Schneider and Odessa Young in Simon Stone’s debut feature “The Daughter” for Roadshow Films. Production kicks off on Friday in Sydney, Australia.

Set in the last days of a dying logging town, the story follows a young man who returns to his family home for his father wedding. Reconnecting with his childhood friend’s family, he unearths a long buried secret and tries to right the wrongs of the past. [Source: THR]

Salem Rogers: Model Of The Year 1998
Leslie Bibb (“Iron Man”) has scored the title role in the Amazon Studios comedy pilot “Salem Rogers: Model Of The Year 1998”. Lindsey Stoddart penned the pilot.

The story centers on a self-centered, arrogant former supermodel who is forced to leave rehab after ten years and reunites with her long-suffering former assistant, now a self-help writer using her years with Salem as an inspiration. [Source: Deadline]