Over the weekend, you may have heard the rumor that stars Robert De Niro and Jude Law would be joining the cast of upcoming Marvel adaptation Thor. The info, scooped by Ain't It Cool News, came about when actor Matthias Schweighöfer (Valkryie, Red Baron) talked to the German edition of GQ (Gentleman's Quarterly) about his own possible role in the film (which is still up in the air.) During the interview, he casually mentioned that Robert De Niro and Jude Law would be part of the cast. (Wait, wait, wait...whaaaa?)
If this rumor is indeed true, then we have a bit of news that, while good on paper, may be reinforcing signs that we've already seen in the film regarding the issue of "over-casting." Upon the last bit of casting news dropping with Stellan Skarsgård's rumored involvement, I've already discussed this aspect of the film. However with these two (especially De Niro, who is a huge, huge star,) it does somewhat re-energize the discussion. This film's primary roles are generally filled. Anyone joining the cast at this point is not likely to be an integral part of the actual story. It begs the question: What role could there be left that is good enough to justify bringing Robert De Niro and Jude Law into the mix?
I can only come up with a theory (again, assuming this news is true,) that perhaps some of the early casting may have been re-shuffled to accommodate some name stars. If this film is as grandiose as we've heard, then perhaps the studio may have taken a look at the grand scheme of this film and decided that, while it is undoubtedly stacked, that it needed more "stars" in the conventional sense. It's a great cast, but realistically, title character, Chris Hemsworth is still best known as "Kirk's Dad" in Star Trek, and Tom Hiddleston, who plays main antagonist, Loki, is not exactly a household name, either. The fact remains, Natalie Portman, who plays romantic lead Jane Foster, is the biggest star on the bill. (And seeing as her character is probably not central, she's probably going to phone this one in.) In the words of Cloris Leachman: "Somebody punch me in the face so I can see some stars! "
Getting back to my point, looking at someone like Shakespearean mainstay Brian Blessed, (who played Boss Nass in the Star Wars prequels,) who was rumored to be on board to play Thor's father, Odin (a key character for sure,) and you get the sense that despite his commanding screen presence, he is someone who could be expendable in an initiative like this. Who are people going to pay money to see? Brian Blessed as Odin? Or Robert f*****g De Niro as Odin? I'm by no means a proponent of "stars for the sake of stars" casting, but I do think that there may be a bit of panic to get some stars in this picture. (Especially seeing how competitive the field of comic-related films will be by the time this is released on May 20, 2011.)
It would not be the first time that director, Kenneth Branagh has worked with either of these stars. De Niro, of course, starred in Branagh's 1994 film adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, which was generally believed to have suffered from focusing too much on nuances. Law, on the other hand, worked under Branagh on his 2007 film, Sleuth, also working under his direction on the stage for Hamlet. These associations put this rumor within the realm of possibility. (Which also happens to make it effective hoax fodder.)
We'll just have to see with time if this rumor has any staying power.
Update: NOT TRUE.