LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Director Marc Webb has been ensnaring actors in his web(b) as he searches for a new Peter Parker to star in Columbia's "Spider-Man" reboot.
He has been meeting actors quietly for several months, but the list has narrowed in the past week or two. No screen tests have been conducted at this early stage (though it will be a requirement), and insiders point out that the director and studio are still on the lookout.
The candidates for the web-slinger include:
-- Jamie Bell: The 24-year-old English actor, who made his film debut playing the title character in "Billy Elliot," has been doing the proper British actor thing in period movies such as "Nicholas Nickleby" and "Jane Eyre" (he's also appeared in Hollywood movies such as Peter Jackson's "King Kong" and Ed Zwick's "Defiance"). More importantly, he's already stepped into the comics world by portraying Tintin in Jackson and Steven Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin" movie, which won't hit screens until December 2011.
-- Alden Ehrenreich: The 20-year-old Los Angeles native has a juicy back story, having been "discovered" by Spielberg, who saw a comedy video starring Ehrenreich at a bat mitzvah of his daughter's friend. A couple of TV appearances followed, but the actor's next big leap came when he was cast by Francis Ford Coppola in 2009's "Tetro."
-- Frank Dillane: The 19-year-old Brit's main credit is last year's "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," where he played a young Tom Riddle. Is a minor role in a "Potter" film a good springboard for a mega-franchise? It worked for Robert Pattinson.
-- Andrew Garfield: The L.A.-born actor had a short stint on a BBC TV series called "Sugar Rush," but gained notices for playing a young reporter in a gritty British TV movie trilogy titled "Red Riding." The 27-year-old appeared in "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," and will be seen in David Fincher's movie about Facebook, "The Social Network."
-- Josh Hutcherson: The youngest actor of the bunch -- he turns 18 this year -- is also the one with the most experience. The past six years alone have seen the Kentucky-born kid rack up credits with key roles in Jon Favreau's "Zathura," drama "Bridge to Terabithia" and the upcoming "Red Dawn" remake. He appears in the Sundance hit "The Kids Are All Right," which insider buzz suggests could be an Oscar contender, and starred with Brendan Fraser in "Journey to the Center of the Earth."
Hutcherson just signed on to star in the "Journey" sequel, and that movie could prove a fly in the ointment if the actor's schedule collides with "Spider-Man." (Though you can bet every effort would be made to make it work.)
The group of actors seems to fall in line with what Webb has been looking to do with his take on Spider-Man, which is to cast relative unknowns in a story that roots Parker back in high school. The movie will be an angst-ridden tale of a teen dealing with the knowledge that his uncle died even though he had the power to stop it.
Columbia wants to begin production by year's end, but Webb and the studio are taking their time choosing the actor while scribe Alvin Sargent gets the script in spider-shape.
A Columbia spokesperson did not comment on the casting process, saying "There have been a number of names floated online and almost every week, someone calls with a new rumor. We are not commenting on the casting process or rumors such as these."