Movie File: Jessica Alba, Hayden Christensen, Zach Braff, Ashlee Simpson & More

Former Darth Vader playing 'Sin City' actress' love interest in psychological thriller.

If you were coming off three of the highest-grossing films of all time and had your pick of roles, what would you want to do next? If your answer was playing the love interest opposite Jessica Alba, Hayden Christensen owes you a high-five. The former Darth Vader will be starring opposite the stunning “Sin City” actress in “Awake,” a psychological thriller that begins shooting in New York next month. The film will tell the story of a man (Christensen) undergoing heart surgery while experiencing a phenomenon called “anesthetic awareness,” which leaves him awake but paralyzed throughout the operation. As various obstacles present themselves, his wife (Alba) must make life-altering decisions while wrestling with her own personal drama. The film will mark the debut of writer/director Joby Harold. …

Imagine there’s no actors … it isn’t hard to do. Lions Gate Films has begun pre-production on “The U.S. vs. John Lennon,” a documentary about the ill-fated singer and the continued influence of his late-life activism. The film, which has the support and cooperation of Yoko Ono, will cover the years 1966-76 in the fabled history of the Beatles legend. It will detail Lennon’s transformation from chart-topping rocker to international icon for peace, while addressing the attempts by the U.S. government to silence his anti-Vietnam sentiments. Co-written, directed and produced by David Leaf and John Scheinfeld (“Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and the Story of Smile“), the film will be released in 2006 to coincide with the 30th anniversary of Lennon being granted permanent residency in the United States. …

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George Clooney did it, Will Smith did it, and David Caruso … well, let’s not go there. After TV’s “Scrubs” made him a household name, Zach Braff has been making a similar jump to the silver screen, beginning with last year’s quirky drama “Garden State.” “I’m contractually tied to the show for two more seasons,” the star recently revealed. “We’re about to start the fifth and then they have the sixth, so we’ll see what happens. I think it’d be great if the show went six years.” The 30-year-old star said he plans to keep making movies along the lines of “Garden State” while staying committed to his prime-time comedy: “I have two movies that I acted in that will be coming out that are completely made for the same crowd. I took them because I also thought they were movies that spoke to my generation. One is called ‘The Last Kiss,’ which will probably be out in the spring, and the other is called ‘Fast Track,’ which is a broad comedy. So I acted in two movies that I thought were in the spirit of the things I’d like to make.” Braff fans who are eager to see him write and direct another “Garden”-type film can rest easy, because he plans to oversee another movie sometime next year: “As far as what I’m going to direct [next], I’m going to start ‘Scrubs’ for seven months, so I’m not really available to do anything until April, and that’s when I think I’ll direct. I’m not real sure what it is. I have a couple of things [in mind], but I’m not sure.” …

For the brave few proud enough to declare their love for the 1996 bomb “The Cable Guy,” it’s a re-match made in heaven. Jim Carrey is in early talks to team up with Ben Stiller again for “Used Guys,” a comedy that the duo hope to shoot next spring. The film sounds like a cross between “The Island” and “The Stepford Wives,” but will hopefully be a lot funnier than either while telling the story of two male clones living in a world run by women. When superior models are introduced that render the Carrey and Stiller characters obsolete, they embark on a mad dash for a rumored male sanctuary known as Mantopia. Stiller directed Carrey in “The Cable Guy” and appeared in a small role, but “Used” would serve as the first true co-starring effort for the comedic giants. The comedy will be overseen by “Meet the Fockers” director Jay Roach. … Ashlee has made a name for herself as the darker, edgier sibling among the pop-singing Simpson sisters. Now, after Jessica turned herself into a buff leading lady for “The Dukes of Hazzard,” the “Pieces of Me” singer hopes to top her with a butt-kicking role of her own. “I can’t wait to do a character that is really out there,” said the actress, who recently starred in her most significant film role in the drama “Undiscovered.” “That would be really nice.” For her dream role, the younger Simpson sister said she wants to be a lethal, morally ambiguous character along the lines of those in some of her favorite movies: ” ‘La Femme Nikita,’ the original, the French version is one of my favorites; or like an Alabama from ‘True Romance.’ [That] would be cool.” Ashlee, who is also considering a return to “Saturday Night Live” as guest host, said she’s still searching for the right role for her next film appearance. …

Elmore Leonard‘s crime-comedy novels have given moviegoers the good (“Get Shorty”), the bad (“Be Cool”) and the ugly (“The Big Bounce”). Next month in Toronto, cameras will roll on his next flick, a big-screen dramatic adaptation of “Killshot.” Diane Lane, Thomas Jane and Mickey Rourke are among those who’ve signed on to the gritty script, which tells the story of a real estate agent (Lane) who teams up with her husband (Jane) on an extortion scheme that goes wrong. Rourke is expected to portray one of the hit men who are then assigned to take out the married couple after they join the Federal Witness Protection Program. Quentin Tarantino, a lifelong Leonard junkie who adapted his work for “Jackie Brown,” will serve as the film’s executive producer. … Working with Tom Cruise? Priceless. Actor and MasterCard commercial narrator Billy Crudup has signed on to play a lead role in “Mission: Impossible 3,” the upcoming action blockbuster currently in production. The “Almost Famous” star will be working alongside series star Cruise and director J.J. Abrams as they target a May 2, 2006, release date. …

Everybody in Hollywood has a passion project, a script of questionable accessibility that touches them personally for one reason or another, causing them to work on it in their spare time while hoping that the planets will eventually align and allow them to get it made. For Hollywood veteran Jeff Bridges, the struggle continues for “The Giver,” an odd-sounding science-fiction film that he begrudgingly admitted hasn’t begun filming yet. “No, God, I wish it was,” he said of the script based on Lois Lowry‘s book. The novel depicts a utopia thrown into disarray when a curious 12-year-old discovers the pain and misery on which his seemingly idyllic community was built. “We’ve been working on that for oh, seven years, I think,” Bridges sighed. “We’re not in production yet … I’ve been working on that for a long, long time.” Nevertheless, the Oscar-nominated star pledged that he will keep on fighting for the movie, which he also hopes to produce.

For more on Mickey Rourke, check out the feature “Comeback Kid.”

Check out everything we’ve got on “Undiscovered.”

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