EXCLUSIVE: Daniel Craig and Katherine Heigl are said to be finalizing deals to join Steven Soderbergh’s heist film Logan Lucky about brothers who plan a crime during a NASCAR race in Charlotte. The film is scheduled for a fall start date, which puts further into question the actor’s willingness to return to the Bond franchise for MGM. Pre-production on Logan Lucky starts this weekend at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 and NASCAR says it has thrown its support behind the picture which is huge given that the sport has literally millions of fans across the country and advertisers flock to it. In fact, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has been the No. 1 or No. 2 most-watched sport of the weekend 10 times in 2016 and it has had about 40M unique TV viewers over the last 12 races.
There have been no negotiations on where the Bond movie will land (Sony or Warner Bros. are out front on this) and although it was thought that negotiations might start after the first quarter 2016, parties are not likely to engage in negotiations until later this year. There is no workable script yet and the creative elements have yet to come into place. It has also been widely reported (and confirmed by Deadline) that Jamie Bell has discussed the Bond role with his Film Stars Don’t Die movie producer Barbara Broccoli (who has long produced the Bond movies). Craig has been very vocal about not wanting to do another Bond. After Spectre, he said publicly that he would rather slash his wrists than do another in the franchise.
The actor has also signed up to star in a limited TV series Purity which is likely to be 20 episodes over two seasons and producer Scott Rudin and writer/director Todd Field are currently negotiating to set that up now at Showtime. The series hopeful based on the novel by Jonathan Franzen is about young female activist named Purity (or Pip) who begins a worldwide search for her Dad. It marks Craig’s first TV series in the U.S.
Interestingly, Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy, State of Affairs) is also returning to TV (and primetime) through the CBS drama Doubt after the network just ordered up the series. She stars with Steven Pasquale, Laverne Cox, Dulé Hill, Dreama Walker, Elliott Gould, and Kobi Libii.
With that kind of TV schedule for Craig, it seems improbable that he would suit up anytime soon for Bond, but nothing has been determined and like Ian Fleming has said never say never again. In the meantime, if the deal makes Craig would join Adam Driver and Seth MacFarlane in the new heist film along with Soderbergh’s Magic Mike star Channing Tatum and Riley Keough (Magic Mike, The Girlfriend Experience). The film is being produced by Mark Johnson, Gregory Jacobs and Reid Carolin.
Incidentally, Tatum’s and 22 Jump Street co-star Jonah Hill served as grand marshals for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pocono 400 in 2014. In terms of merchandising and licensing and marketing support as well as all the advertising surrounding NASCAR, having covered sports marketing in the past, this could be a boon for the film in terms of getting product placement and other tie-in deals which would then defray the cost of the production.
Craig is repped by CAA. Heigl is repped by WME.