Casting: Scarlett Johansson hops aboard Jojo Rabbit, The Purge adds a duo, and Westworld gets a geisha

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Mar 29, 2018, 4:59 PM EDT

Taika Waititi’s newly announced World War II fantastical film Jojo Rabbit already has landed a big casting catch: Scarlett Johansson, who’s been inked to play the mother of the film’s young protagonist with a very active imagination.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Johansson will portray the mother of a 10-year-old boy who, missing his dad, borrows elements of Adolf Hitler’s heroic public image from Nazi propaganda to help him fashion an imaginary, substitute father figure. Ah, kids and their wild ideas.

As the boy’s mother, Johansson “doesn’t understand her child and the challenges he’s facing,” per THR. With the benefit of historical hindsight, we’ve gotta say it’s easy to see how the boy’s unusual coping strategy certainly could give a mother reason for concern. 

The Thor: Ragnarok director is already on record assuring that the film isn’t about Hitler — and definitely not about revising history’s verdict — but about “a lonely boy’s best version of his hero, which is really his dad.” The choice of Hitler as a young boy’s focus in filling that kind of need is no doubt a setup for plenty of poignant irony... and probably no small amount of fantasy.

Expect more casting news as development on Jojo Rabbit warms up: Production is slated to begin in late May.


Meanwhile, development at USA and SYFY to adapt The Purge film franchise for TV continues apace, with two big casting grabs filling slots for recurring roles. 

Amanda Warren (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) has been cast in the role of Jane, a “dedicated and hardworking finance professional” whom the studio says is “convinced that she’s hit an insurmountable glass ceiling at her firm, so she hires a Purge-assassin,” according to an announcement.

Colin Woodell (Designated Survivor, The Originals) will play the role of Rick, a self-made social climber in cahoots with the pro-Purge elite who’s finally seeing a lifetime of hard work pay off — but at what cost?

The series, which will air on both USA and SYFY, puts a new spin on the film franchise by focusing on how people manage their ambitions and frustrations those other 364 days out of the year when murder and mayhem actually aren’t legal. In other words, it promises to examine how people in a pro-Purge society are affected by dealing with the annual event as the major cultural and emotional backdrop for their everyday lives.

The TV series comes from The Purge franchise creator James DeMonaco, and is being developed to release alongside the next installment in the film series, so stay tuned for more casting additions as they happen.


Finally, file this one under the heading of super-well-kept secrets: Westworld’s second season, which is already finished filming and set to make its debut late next month, will feature Pacific Rim’s Rinko Kikuchi as a Shogun World character.

Fans got a glimpse of the full Season 2 trailer today, which included a fleeting shot of Kikuchi, but Entertainment Weekly confirmed that this was, indeed, the Pacific Rim actress, and she'll be playing a geisha-type character named Akane who lurks within Delos Incorporated’s newly revealed theme park inspired by medieval Japan. 

And, yes, it's looking more and more as though ShogunWorld will get some decent screen time in Season 2. How much, though, is still up in the air — but at least we don’t have to wait long: Westworld kicks off its second season on HBO beginning April 22.