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Felicity Jones & Riley Keough Among Frontrunners For Lead In ‘Snow White & The Huntsman’

Felicity Jones & Riley Keough Among Frontrunners For Lead In 'Snow White & The Huntsman'

Newcomers Bella Heathcote and Alicia Vikander Also Linked To Role

It’s been a few months since there was any news on the duelling ‘Snow White’ projects set up at Universal and Relativity — the former has newcomer Rupert Sanders attached to direct, the latter visual stylist Tarsem, and while both have had names rumored to be involved, no solid word has come out for some time. But suddenly, the floodgates have opened, with news coming in last night that Relativity want Julia Roberts to play the evil queen in their project, “The Brothers Grimm: Snow White,” while, as rumored, Charlize Theron is on the verge of signing on for the equivalent role in Universal’s “Snow White and the Huntsman.”

Furthermore, with Tom Hardy, who was once circling the role of the huntsman, signing for “The Dark Knight Rises” and John Hillcoat‘s “The Wettest County,” fellow wishlist stalwart Michael Fassbender looks to be the frontrunner to step in. But what of Snow White herself? Natalie Portman‘s name has been unsurprisingly mentioned in connection with Tarsem’s film (although that seems unlikely), but a huge international hunt is underway for Universal’s project (almost every actress friend or acquaintance of The Playlist’s has read for the role), and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, it looks to have been narrowed down to a handful of leaders.

While tentative approaches were allegedly made to bigger names like Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning and Saoirse Ronan (none of whom seem right for the role at all, it should be said), the studio appear to be set, for the moment at least, on going down the unknown route, and four names have reached the front of the pack: Riley Keough, Felicity Jones, Bella Heathcoat and Alicia Vikander.

The first two are perhaps the best known, although that’s a relative term — 21-year-old Keough, the granddaughter of Elvis Presley, appeared on the cover of Vogue at the age of 14, before making her screen debut in this year’s rock biopic “The Runaways.” Next year, she’ll appear alongside Orlando Bloom in “The Good Doctor,” and take the co-lead in Bradley Rust Gray‘s teen werewolf drama “Jack & Diane,” alongside Juno Temple. Her name was also mentioned in connection with a role in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” although it’s unclear if she’s still attached.

26-year-old Jones, meanwhile, is the most experienced of the four, having begun acting on the British TV show “The Worst Witch” as a teenager, and taking up a role on the long-running radio drama “The Archers.” Her star’s been on the rise ever since, with stage roles in the likes of “That Face” and “The Chalk Garden,” TV work on “Doctor Who” and “Northanger Abbey” (the latter opposite Carey Mulligan) and film work in “Flashbacks of a Fool” and “Brideshead Revisited.” This year saw her as the female lead in, and best thing about, Ricky Gervais‘ “Cemetery Junction,” and she’s got Julie Taymor‘s “The Tempest” and the romantic comedy “Chalet Girl” set for release soon. She’s been busy of late, signing on Iain Softley‘s Trap for Cinderella,” the twee dramaThis Beautiful Fantastic” and the period comedyCheerful Weather For The Wedding.”

The other two are less familliar, even to us — the 22-year-old Australian Heathcote is a veteran of long-running soap “Neighbors,” and this year’s winner of the Heath Ledger Scholarship, set up by the late star’s family to give young Australian actors a chance at succeeding at Hollywood. Vikander, meanwhile, is a 22-year-old Swedish former ballerina, who had a role on the popular show “Andra Avenyn,” and who made her big-screen debut this year in the classical music drama “Beloved.” Five’ll get you ten that she came to the attention of casting directors during the hunt for “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” although her name was never mentioned publicly.

All four are set to screen-test before Christmas, so a decision is expected shortly, although The Hollywood Reporter are at pains to say that, depending on how they go, the studio may decide to go back to trying for bigger names. We’re only familiar with Jones’ work, of the four, and we’d say that she’s a fine choice for the role (and our gut says that she’ll get it), but really, it could be anyone’s at this point. Although the original start date appears to have slipped, the film will go before cameras in the first half of next year, for a 21 December 2012 release date.

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