“Criminal” director Ariel Vroman looks like a genius for casting Gal Gadot to play the female lead in his new movie. Before she made headlines as Wonder Woman, Vroman cast her to play the widow of a government agent who must deal with a man (Kevin Costner) who claims he’s been given the memories of her dead husband.
The fact she’s in the movie is big considering Gadot has just been seen in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” It’s a role she will reprise in a 2017 Wonder Woman film and in at least two “Justice League” films.
Vroman jokes that he should be called the top casting director in Hollywood for casting Gadot before she was picked to wield the golden lasso.
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The truth is that Vroman and Gadot have been friends for more than a dozen years. After seeing her work in a couple of the “Fast & Furious” movies, plus a film she did in Israel, he thought of her to balance a movie that was male-heavy with Costner, Ryan Reynolds, Gary Oldman and Tommy Lee Jones.
“I asked if she would like to do the role and she just wanted to know if I was serious,” Vroman says.
He was. It was a little easier for him to turn to a friend because “Criminal” started as an independent film. That meant less input from studio executives.
A month after offering Gadot the role, he got a call from her saying that she’d been cast to play Wonder Woman.
After hearing the news, the first thing Vroman asked was whether she was being serious. She was. He then began to think about when “Criminal” would be released in theaters in proximity to “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”
There’s always room
Regina Hall knew when she was signing on for “Barbershop: The Next Cut” that she would have to share screen time with a long list of fellow actors. Along with Hall, the cast includes Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Eve, Anthony Anderson, Nicki Minaj, Common and J. B. Smoove.
Not only would the Washington, D.C., native have to share the screen with a lot of people, many of her co-stars are well known for their improvisational skills.
Hall took on the task because of her faith in director Malcolm D. Lee.
“You would think some people would be overlapped,” Hall says. “He was so invested in each character, in each person, that he ended up doing a great job. We all shine in a different way, but we all shine.”
This isn’t Hall’s first time starring in a movie with a large cast. She was also part of the ensemble casts in “Think Like a Man,” “The Best Man Holiday,” “Think Like a Man Too” and “Death at a Funeral.”
Hall jokes that she had a lot more funny lines in the film but they were edited out. The director told her about the edits, and when she finally saw his final version, she understood why the cuts were made.”
“Malcolm was the first director I ever worked with,” Hall says of being in the 1999 release “The Best Man.” “Malcolm is very clear what he wants, so you trust him in a scene to do what he needs to do.”
Characters no longer welcomed: After years of telling us “characters welcomed” at the USA Network, the channel has a new slogan: “We the Bold.” It “encapsulates the network’s evolved programming strategy and telegraphs a new, distinct point of view for the brand.”
Basket counts: “The Drew,” a film directed and produced by Baron Davis, explores the history of a pro-am basketball league in the heart of South Central Los Angeles. It will debut at 8 p.m. April 29 on Showtime.
Keeping track: WGN America is offering a mobile app for its series “Underground.” It’s available for free download on iPhone, iPad and on Android phones. The app includes behind-the-scenes videos, information and regularly updated content that subscribers can download, integrate and share across their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram profiles.