UPDATE (6/20): Not so fast. According Nikki Finke, Leto has turned down the project after all. Still, nice work in getting offered the gig. Noomi Rapace remains attached; the search for a male lead continues.
PREVIOUSLY: To those who say winning an Oscar makes no difference to one's career, here's evidence to the contrary. This time last year, news of Jared Leto replacing Will Smith on a major commercial project would have seemed like crazy talk — not least because the sometime actor and 30 Seconds to Mars frontman hadn't appeared in any movies at all in four years. (While we're about it, how many people would have bet on Leto grabbing a golden statuette before two-time nominee Smith?)
What a difference a year makes. Following his slew of awards for “Dallas Buyers Club,” Leto is a hot property again — and despite claiming in many an interview on the Oscar trail that he was in no hurry to return to acting, the 42-year-old actor has lined up his next screen assignment — starring opposite Noomi Rapace in Julius Onah's high-concept thriller “Brilliance” for Legendary Pictures.
Based on the bestselling novel by Marcus Sakey, “Brilliance” tells the story of a federal agent on the tail of a deadly terrorist with designs on starting a civil war — the twist is that the hunter and hunted are both “brilliants,” a special subset of phenomenally gifted human beings, and the agent's chase will entail betraying his own kind.
Screenwriter David Koepp (“Jurassic Park,” “Mission: Impossible,” most recently “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”) has adapted the novel; young Nigerian-born director Onah made his feature-length debut with the 2012 thriller “The Girl Is In Trouble.” Joe Roth (“Maleficent”) is among the producers.
Smith was originally set to play the lead, before he dropped out in favor of a football-themed film at Sony; Leto is an intriguing substitute, given that he's never really headlined a multiplex title. (Give or take “Urban Legends” in 1998.) He's long been picky with his projects, so I wonder if the Oscar win will also enable him to take more mad arthouse gambles like “Mr. Nobody.”
Are you intrigued to see how Leto extends his comeback? Could “Brilliance” live up to its title? Tell us in the comments.