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EXCLUSIVE: Colin Farrell Is Frontrunner for 'Total Recall' Lead

Total Recall is narrowing in on finding the star that will step into the shoes first worn by Arnold Schwarzennegar in the 1990 movie.

Colin Farrell is at the top of the list, which also includes Tom Hardy and Michael Fassbender.

No offers have been made for anyone to star in the movie, which is looking at a late March start with Len Wiseman behind the camera and Neal Moritz and his Original Film banner producing.

The studio is contemporizing its adaptation of the original 1990 movie, which was based on a Philip K. Dick story, "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale." It followed a man haunted by a recurring dream of journeying to Mars who buys a literal dream vacation from a company called Rekall Inc., which sells implanted memories. The man comes to believe he is a secret agent and ends up on a Martian colony, where he fights to overthrow a despotic ruler controlling the production of air.

One big question is how the new movie, with a script by Kurt Wimmer, will tackle one of Dick's favorite topics, reality vs. delusion, with audiences never knowing whether or not the movie was a dream. Christopher Nolan just reinvigorated the concept with the detailed dreamscapes he built into Inception.

But a bigger question is whether the actors the studio is keen on are available?

Farrell just might be, although the Irish actor will likely star alongside Eric Bana in Sheldon Turner's crime drama By Virtue Fall, which will shoot in January. He would be finished in time to jump right into Recall

By Virtue Fall, which Turner wrote, centers on a federal agent framed by his mentor. After a stint in prison, he seeks revenge on his former partner, who has flourished in his new life.

The dealmaking took months, with Farrell dancing in and out of the picture and rumours swirling that Jeremy Renner would step in. In the meantime, Hurt Locker backer Voltage Pictures dropped out as financier. The pic, being produced by Turner and Jennifer Klein, is in the process of picking up new money, and is heading toward a shoot in the new year.

If Farrell does head to Mars, it will be his second shot at a high-profile Hollywood career. Since appearing in studio movies such as Daredevil, S.W.A.T., Miami Vice and Alexander, the actor has lately been sticking to lower budgeted homegrown fare. But he recently wrapped DreamWorks' 3D remake of Fright Night, in which he plays the villainous vampire, as well as New Line's Horrible Bosses, in which he plays one of the jeffes in question. Those roles can be seen as priming him up for a nice return to heroic form, with a tentpole like Recall jumping it to the next level.

Hardy, meanwhile, has found his dance card filling up ever since appearing in Nolan’s Inception. The English actor is currently in Vancouver shooting This Means War, the McG-directed movie which stars Chris Pine and Reese Witherspoon. In addition, his 2011 is already packed. He is said to be reteaming with Nolan for the filmmaker’s third Batman movie, which shoots in the spring and summer. In the fall, Hardy will star in Fury Road, the most recent Mad Max movie.

Fassbender, another rising star thanks to his turn in Inglorious Basterds, is in pre-production on Shame, an indie being directed by Steve McQueen, and is also shooting X-Men: First Class in England. While he has several projects vying for his attention, rumors are swirling that he may take part in Peter Jackson’s two-movie adaptation of The Hobbit. If that is to occur, depending on scheduling, Hobbit could take him out of the equation for Total Recall, even if the two movies don’t shoot in New Zealand (the location of the filming is still up in the air as New Line and Jackson deal with a labor dispute).