Ryan Reynolds In, Jake Gyllenhaal Out for Gambling Pic ‘Mississippi Grind’

By June 28, 2013
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Ryan Reynolds is one of those actors we all seemed to love just a few short years ago. He was the best part of the otherwise-iffy Blade: Trinity, made us laugh in Van Wilder and Waiting…, made a romantic comedy that was actually good (Definitely, Maybe), and starred in the underseen-but-excellent films The Nines and Buried. But something weird started to happen: Reynolds began getting bigger roles in higher profile movies. X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Green Lantern. The Proposal. His public perception started dropping like crazy, and it just seems like he hasn’t been making the best career choices lately. (Though Safe House was better than it had any right to be.)

Now Deadline reports that Reynolds has hopped on board Mississippi Grind, a gambling film set up at Warner Bros. that could end up being exactly the kind of movie that Reynolds needs right now – meaning: it has the potential to be good. I can’t say the same about his upcoming would-be blockbuster R.I.P.D., in which he co-stars with Jeff Bridges as an undead detective in a world that looks like Beetlejuice meets Men in Black (though I’d be glad to be proven wrong about that), so maybe a more contained piece like this will settle him down and allow him to reset and maybe head in a new direction.

The movie is being written and directed by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, the filmmakers behind Half-Nelson, and stars Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Knight Rises, The Place Beyond the Pines, Animal Kingdom) as a down-on-his-luck gambler who teams up with a younger gambling addict (Reynolds). The two embark on a road trip across the South with the hopes of changing their luck. Deadline says Jake Gyllenhaal was once set to play the older gambler before he ended up bailing on the project, but that doesn’t make any sense because he’s 32 and Mendelsohn is 44; it’s more likely Jake was going to play the younger guy and Reynolds replaced him.

Mendelsohn is a terrific talent and Boden & Fleck have a knack of getting stellar performances out of their actors, so hopefully being surrounded by that indie sensibility will bring the best out of Reynolds and make him forget about the massive green screens and Hollywood-style excess he’s likely been dealing with for the past few years. I still think he’s a likeable and funny dude, so I’m holding out hope that he can ascend through the ranks once again. Thoughts?

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Ben is a writer living in Los Angeles, California. His work has been featured at ScreenRant.com, FirstShowing.net, MySpace.com, GeekTyrant.com, and many more sites across the web. Some of his favorite movies include The Rocketeer, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Tombstone, Lucky Number Slevin, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Collateral, Double Indemnity, Back to the Future and The Prestige. Follow him on Twitter: @BenPears.