One of my favorite young actors, Jamie Bell, will be playing little brother to Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber in Ed Zwick's next project, Defiance. The war film, based on a true story, tells of Jewish brothers who escape Nazi-occupied Poland in order to fight alongside the Russians in the forests of Belarussia. We'd previously heard about Craig's involvement -- something that must have excited fans of both James Bond and Munich -- but despite Variety's story today focusing on Bell, I think this is also the first time we're officially hearing about Schreiber's involvement (over at The Hollywood Reporterthe casting news spotlights both actors).

Although these three guys don't really look like they'd be related -- though they could pass better than the fraternal trio of The Darjeeling Limited -- each is a terrific actor, and together they should prove an enjoyable team to watch. And while the subject matter and the filmmaker are sure to warrant their own usual Oscar buzz, I'm really hopeful about the prospects of these three guys getting recognition, themselves. Zwick has directed a few actors to nominations (DiCaprio; Hounsou; Watanabe; Denzel Washington even won for Glory) and his resume as producer also features plenty of Oscar notices.

In addition to Bell and Schreiber, two others have joined the cast in supporting roles. Alexa Devalos (The Chronicles of Riddick) will play Craig's (much younger) love interest, a fellow Polish refugee, and Tomas Arana (Gladiator) will play a leader of Russian resistance fighters. However, I'm mostly excited for Bell, who I've been a fan of since his precious debut in Billy Elliot.

He has had a few starring roles beyond that film, but nothing that has gotten him the same acclaim. He almost makes Chumscrubber and Dear Wendy tolerable, and he is fine -- though underused -- in Peter Jackson's terrible King Kong. But if you want to see him give another great performance in another great film, you have to go back to David Gordon Green's Undertow, which also admittedly may be too much an acquired taste for mainstream audiences. He also co-starred in last year's Flags of our Fathers, but I still haven't seen it and so can't judge his contribution. Hopefully, Defiance will allow him to break out more in terms of getting more prestigious gigs. Even if the film itself is as badly paced and as forcefully harrowing as Zwick's last, Blood Diamond, it will at least be, like that film, entertaining for its performances alone.
categories Cinematical