EXCLUSIVE: This is one of the most coveted roles in Hollywood. And now, after critic- and fan-lauded star turns in Thor, The Avengers, and Snow White And The Huntsman, Chris Hemsworth will be working with Steven Spielberg. I’ve learned that, amid much secrecy (including assumed names), Spielberg met and now wants Hemsworth in his next helming effort Robopocalypse, the big technothriller which is sure to become the director’s next big global popcorn film. The Disney-Fox-DreamWorks’ actioner is releasing worldwide on April 25, 2014. (That’s the same weekend that Marvel’s The Avengers was released internationally this year. Disney distributes Robopocalypse domestically, Fox overseas.)
The script based on the Daniel H. Wilson epic novel about the human race’s attempt to survive an apocalyptic robot uprising was most recently adapted by hot screenwriter Kario Salem, who has been rewriting Drew Goddard. Robopocalypse puts Spielberg back into the large-scale terrain that is important in his relationship with Reliance. Now Hemsworth would be Spielberg’s first casting on the film. (There’s no official offer on the table yet). It puts the hot Aussie hunk near the top of the list of Hollywood’s bankable action stars. Now that Thor opened strongly around the world, and Thor 2 is in the works, and Snow White And The Huntsman has earned $372.8M worldwide so far, its star and his good looks can showcase even more of his acting ability under Spielberg’s authority. (But his presence may also drum up appeal for the movie among women with a shirtless clip or two…)
Hemsworth is repped by IFA’s Ilene Feldman and ROAR management partner and co-founder William Ward. As I’ve written many times before, Hemsworth’s journey into a movie leading man is the stuff of Hollywood legend. Ward talent-spotted Chris during one of the manager’s many scouting trips to Australia. Ward brought him to Los Angeles and really put him out there to casting directors and production executives. Chris read for the part of Thor but wasn’t given a test because a casting director had nixed him early on. Chris’ younger brother Liam (who’s also a ROAR client) then tested for the role of Thor, but Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige passed. Then, after a conversation with Ward (“You’ve got to reconsider Chris, he’s your guy”), Feige decided to let Chris read again. And once Marvel put him on tape, it was “Oh my god!”. Hemsworth also was in Joss Whedon’s Cabin In The Woods and J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot.
But Robopocalypse is so big, it needed two studios – or so Hollywood joked – so DreamWorks and Fox did a deal to co-finance the pic. Deadline broke the story that Spielberg was eyeing the novel as a directing vehicle before he chose War Horse as his first film under DreamWorks 2.0’s financial deal with Reliance and distribution deal at Disney. Deadline also revealed first that Spielberg had committed to direct it. At that time, the novel wasn’t finished, but Spielberg was so excited about the book that it was already being storyboarded and designed as Wilson was turning in pages and Goddard was translating them into the screenplay. Doubleday published the book in June.