Cameron Diaz Joins Colin Firth In ‘Gambit’

You can say this about a lot of the people working in Hollywood, but for Shirley MacLaine, it’s absolutely true: the woman is one of a kind. That’s not meant in a backhanded way, either; she’s one of the true greats, an iconic face in the industry that can’t ever be fully replaced.

That’s exactly why it’s going to be a tricky prospect for any actress looking to reclaim one of MacLaine’s most beloved roles, such as her turn as Nicole Chang in the 1966 film “Gambit.”

A remake of the heist picture has been in the works for some time now, with Colin Firth set to take over Michael Caine’s role of confidence man Harry Tristan Dean, “True Grit” masterminds Joel and Ethan Coen behind the script and and “The Last Station” director Michael Hoffman behind the lens. And now, we have an actress to take on Nicole Chang. It’s Cameron Diaz.

Deadline reports that the “Something About Mary” and “Charlie’s Angels” sweetheart has nabbed the co-lead in the “Gambit” remake, which starts shooting in London this coming May. In the current version of “Gambit,” Firth stars as a London art curator who seeks to con a rich collector into purchasing a phony painting. As part of his plot, he recruits a Texas steer roper (Diaz) to pose as the granddaughter of the man who liberated the painting during World War II.

“Gambit” boasts a fun and frequently pulse-pounding premise, and the attachment of Firth and the Coens surely sets the tone for what this project could and should be. Diaz’s involvement, however, is likely to turn a few heads. She’s not traditionally thought of as the actor’s actor, though she’s held her own in some serious projects including Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York.” But with Firth a likely Oscar winner by the time this movie starts production, audiences were probably hoping and expecting someone of that same caliber to share the screen with him when “Gambit” rolls around.

Me, I’ll keep an open mind. Diaz has always struck me as a likable personality, and given her role in the story, that’s an important quality for her character to have. But let’s get one thing straight: she’s no Shirley MacLaine. No one is.

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