Assuming the scheduling stars align, Ben Affleck will play protagonist Nick Dunne in David Fincher's adaptation of Gillian Flynn's bestselling thriller "Gone Girl."
The high-profile acting gig would be slotted into Affleck's fall, giving the hyphenate time to prep his next helming effort, Warner Bros. crime drama "Live By Night," which is scheduled to start pre-production in January.
As fans of the book know, Dunne is a magazine writer-turned-bartender who moves with his wife, Amy, back to his Midwestern hometown after he loses his prestigious NYC job -- and he is accused of murdering his wife after she disappears one morning from their North Carthage, Mo., home. The novel alternates perspectives between Nick and Amy, examining a couple’s difficult marriage through the lens of a missing spouse.
Would Affleck make a good Nick Dunne? The A-lister certainly boasts the rugged good looks required to play the unreliable narrator. But it's not an easy role, since it requires a measure of duplicity; he's a character the audience can't decide whether to sympathize with or not.
It will be an interesting acting challenge for Affleck, who has been garnering more acclaim as a director in recent years. Under the tutelage of perfectionist director Fincher, it's also going to be quite an exhaustive project. (Here's hoping for that on-set video of Fincher putting Affleck through 96 takes.)
The other question the multitude of "Gone Girl" fans may have is about the age of the character. Affleck is set to turn 41, but in the book the character is 34, and in an informal poll we conducted asking fans who they wanted to cast in the taut thriller, Ryan Gosling, 32, was readers' top choice, with Jake Gyllenhaal, 32, a close second.
The "Gone Girl" novel has become a publishing phenomenon since it was released in June 2012. The thriller sold over 2 million copies in its first year of release and appeared atop many publications' year-end best lists.
The search is now on for the role of Amy Dunne, a character every bit as conniving as her husband. Reese Witherspoon is producing the film via her Pacific Standard company but will not star in the project, which Flynn adapted herself. (Natalie Portman was also in discussions for the dynamic role but a deal didn't work out, according to a source close to the project.)
Fincher is currently meeting with actresses, with no word on whether he will take a close look at his favorite femmes of late: the Mara sisters. (Fincher cast Kate Mara in the Netflix series "House of Cards" while Rooney Mara of course starred as Lisbeth Salander in his adaptation of "A Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.") Expect a decision soon on whether the movie will shoot in the fall -- and with Affleck.