Laurence Fishburne
Laurence Fishburne

Three casting news announcements you should be aware of…

— First, Forest Whitaker has joined the cast of the heist movie “Finding Steve McQueen,” which Mark Steven Johnson (“Ghost Rider,” “Daredevil,” “Elektra”) is attached to direct.

Based on the true story of the biggest bank heist in US history, “Finding Steve McQueen” is set in 1972 and follows a gang of thieves from Youngstown, Ohio who attempt to steal $30 million in illegal contributions and blackmail money from then President Nixon.

Whitaker joins a cast that includes Travis Fimmel, Kate Bosworth, William Fichtner, John Finn, Rhys Coiro and Louis Lombardi.

The screenplayis penned by Keith Sharon (“Showtime’) and Ken Hixon (“City by the Sea”).

Principal photography begins next month in Atlanta, Georgia.

— Second, Zoe Kravitz will star alongside James Franco, Jack Reynor and Dennis Quaid in a sci-fi action-thriller titled “Kin,” which will be directed by Jonathan and Josh Baker, based on their own short film, “Bag Man.”

Scripted by Daniel Casey, the story follows a recently released ex-con (Reynor) and his adopted younger brother who are forced to go on the run. Chased by a vengeful criminal (Franco), the feds and otherworldly soldiers, their only protection is a mysterious weapon they find.

Kravitz plays the brothers’ trusted ally, who joins them on the run.

Principal photography is set to begin in October.

— And finally, Laurence Fishburne joins Steve Carell and Bryan Cranston in Richard Linklater’s “Last Flag Flying,”  a sequel to “The Last Detail,” the 1973 comedy-drama directed by Hal Ashby that starred Jack Nicholson, Randy Quaid, and Otis Young, which was based on a 1970 novel of the same name by Darryl Ponicsan.

Linklater’s “Last Flag Flying” is also based on the author’s sequel of the same name. The first book/film followed 2 Navy men (Nicholson and Young) who are ordered to bring a young offender (Quaid) to prison, who decide to show him one last good time along the way.

In “Last Flag Flying,” the same elements that inspired the original – injustice, a senseless war, men of honor and duty – are also central. The 3 men in the first story are revisited in a post-9/11 world. Quaid’s character has come back into the lives of the characters played by Nicholson and Young; he’s now a grieving man of 52, with a gut-wrenching request they decide to honor – to help bring home the body of his son who was killed in Iraq – as the trio retraces their steps from 34 years before, from Norfolk, Virginia to Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

We can assume that Fishburne will play the character Otis Young played in the original – Richard “Mule” Mulhall, if only because he’s the only black member of the threesome.

Linklater has been working to get this made for about a decade, hoping that he’d be able to reunite 2 of the original cast to play older versions of the characters they played in the first film – Nicholson and Randy Quaid. Unfortunately, Otis Young suffered a stroke in Los Angeles and died on October 12, 2001. So Linklater planned to replace him with Morgan Freeman. Obviously that version of the film was never made.

It looks like it’ll be made now, with Fishburne, Carell and Cranston. Start of principal photography is set for November.

I should mention that the 1972 film was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Actor in a Leading Role, Jack Nicholson; Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Randy Quaid; and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Robert Towne. None of them won.