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Kitsch And Johnson May Be Savages

In talks for Oliver Stone's latest

There's no solidly confirmed and signed-on cast yet, but according to Deadline Oliver Stone is in serious talks with Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson to embody the pothead protagonists of Savages.

Based on the novel by Don Winslow, the story involves an environmentalist (brains) and an ex-mercenary (muscle) running a marijuana business from Laguna Beach. Historically, having a merc on side has been enough to scare off trouble, but the pair come up against scarier odds when they attract the attention of a Mexican drug cartel, who kidnap the boys' sidekick Ophelia. Cue plot-twisting and violence, but also a liberal dash of humour.

Johnson is on for the eco-minded Ben, which makes Kitsch the more violent Chon. Can you be a grizzled ex-mercenary when you're not yet 30? Maybe it's a bit of a stretch (perhaps he did some bounty hunting during his gap yah), but with Battleship and John Carter of Mars both due in the next year, Friday Night Lights' Kitsch, whose biggest screen splash so far was as Gambit in Wolverine, is likely about to hit rather big, making his casting alongside the also-rising star of Kick Ass a bit of a coup.

Jennifer Lawrence was apparently in line to play Ophelia before The Hunger Games called (how many films was she supposed to be doing before Hunger Games?), with the word on the street that Stone is now keen on Olivia Wilde to step in. And we may see Salma Hayek as the cartel member who develops a maternal bond with her kidnap victim.

None of this is confirmed however, so keep an eye out for future developments. Savages is currently negotiating a studio deal, with Universal looking set to pick it up, and Stone is currently putting the finishing touches to screenplay with scriptwriter Shane Salerno.

Winslow's novel is out now, published by Heinemann.