Movie File: Wilmer Valderrama, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Paul Walker & More

Valderrama's new challenge: going from sitcom star to leading man in 'CHiPs.'

Although the upcoming “CHiPs” movie has been described as a “Starsky & Hutch” sort of parody, Wilmer Valderrama seems to think otherwise. He says he expects the Highway Patrol cop story to be something so explosive that it will propel him to above-the-title status for good. “It’s one of those things where [I'm like], ‘OK, this is a different time now,’ ” said the actor, who will play Ponch and start shooting in the spring. “For me the challenge is … how does a sidekick for eight years on a sitcom go from that to a leading man?” Valderrama said. …

Mary Elizabeth Winstead will rejoin the makers of “Final Destination 3″ for their next project, a revisiting of the 1974 holiday horror classic “Black Christmas.” “We started rehearsals a week ago, and then I go back on Sunday to actually start shooting,” the actress revealed this week. She will star alongside several other up-and-coming young actresses in the film, which is less a remake and more of a companion piece. “It’s sort of a prequel and a sequel all in one,” she said. “The first chunk of the movie deals with [the film's killer] Billy’s life and his childhood, and then we go to present day with a bunch of girls in a sorority house and [Billy] comes back for a visit. … I’ve seen the original; this is going to be very different. It deals a lot with the back story of the movie.” Winstead and Michelle Trachtenberg (“Ice Princess”) will play two of the tortured sorority sisters, but, “If anyone is the main girl, it’s probably Katie Cassidy,” she confessed. …

One of the most versatile directors in Hollywood, Nick Cassavetes has brought us the Sean Penn drama “She’s So Lovely,” the weeper “The Notebook” and the upcoming Justin Timberlake-starring “Alpha Dog.” Now he’s in pre-production on “Iron Man,” a big-budget superhero flick about one of the most popular characters in the comic book world. He said diehard fans’ hopes that the character’s costume will stay classic rather than go state-of-the-art is a “smart idea,” adding that, “[It will be] more mechanical than high-tech — that’s the way to go on that.” Referring to his vision of Tony Stark’s costume as a “flying tin can,” Cassavetes said, “Marvel [Comics] is working things out right now.” He concluded by saying no actor (including the once-attached Tom Cruise) has been signed to play Stark yet. …

Films like “The Fast and the Furious” may give the impression that Paul Walker is more of a gear-head than a literary scholar, but now the actor has signed on to “Papa,” an upcoming film that will star Anthony Hopkins as one of Walker’s favorite authors, Ernest Hemingway. “When I grew up, [Hemingway] was required reading in junior high and high school,” the 32-year-old star recently said. Set to film later this year and co-starring Meg Ryan, the drama will tell the true story of a young writer (Walker) who befriends Papa in 1959, discovering an unlikely father figure. “As soon as I know [a script is based on] a true story, I don’t know what it is, it just grabs me,” he said. “What happened to this guy and his life, and ultimately being mentored by Hemingway and what he saw, what his expectations were. To actually sit down with the guy who wrote the project and have him say, ‘Yeah, this really happened just the way I wrote it,’ I’m going, ‘Wow.’ A lot of people like to think their lives are fascinating, that they’ve done some pretty cool things … but that doesn’t hold a candle to this guy’s life and what he experienced. That’s why I wanted to make it.” Walker expects to begin shooting the flick later this year. …

The end of 2004′s “Dawn of the Dead” left the door open for a sequel, and we think (maybe?) that Sarah Polley‘s frantic nurse made it out alive, so the question needs to be asked: When are we going to get more running zombies? “I’ve heard very casual talk, but nothing lately,” she reported, before adding that she’d love to do a sequel. “The world never gets tired of zombies, so I don’t see why not.” …

Fairuza Balk, known for her volatile, eccentric roles in films like “The Craft,” gets downright matronly in the upcoming drama “Wild Tigers I Have Known,” which recently debuted at Sundance. “I get to play a mom for the first time,” the 31-year-old laughed, “which freaked me out because I’m not a mother.” The indie film, expected to hit theaters later this year, is “about a prepubescent boy coming of age [who is a] homosexual but he doesn’t know it yet.” Citing the recent success of “Brokeback Mountain,” Balk said such trends need to be supported. She insisted that the film is a sensitive exploration of the self-discovery of a teen’s homosexuality “and how awkward it is for people growing up,” adding, “['Tigers'] is a very important film to show people that others might have had the same experiences.” …

The world has waited 17 years now for another Indiana Jones movie but, according to Harrison Ford, we’ll have to keep waiting until they get the script right. “The deal is that the Internet is full of information,” he grinned, implying that much of it is wrong. “We have an ambition to make ['Indiana Jones 4'], we have a possible time to make it and we have a script that is undergoing some revisions. That’s as much as I can say at the moment.” …

Currently sporting a pencil-thin moustache, “Bourne” series star Gabriel Mann looks as creepy and surreal as the bizarre film he currently has in production. “I’m in the middle of shooting this amazing movie in L.A.,” he announced of “Dark Streets.” “It’s like almost like a sci-fi film noir. It takes place in the ’30s and ’40s and it’s myself and Bijou Phillips. There’s music in it, as well as singing and musical numbers. It’s sort of like ‘Gilda’ with Rita Hayworth meets ‘City of Lost Children.’ ” Izabella Miko (“Coyote Ugly”) also stars in the indie production. “I play this guy who runs this incredible nightclub in the city,” he said of his character. “We’re in the middle of all these disturbing power blackouts, so at any given moment we’re in the dark and everything gets shut down. There are killers on the loose and people are getting murdered. This is juxtaposed with dancing girls with kick lines, gorgeous women like Veronica Lake and Marilyn Monroe. It’s very much like an old-school Hollywood romantic picture with gangsters, guns and dolls. I’m not supposed to say too much about it,” he smiled, perhaps realizing that he had already said too much. “But you’ll know it when it comes out.”

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— Larry Carroll, with additional reporting by SuChin Pak and Jeff Cornell