Ryan Gosling Meets on 'Houdini,' 'Doctor Strange': Will He Finally Take on a Big Franchise?

The 33-year-old actor has so far avoided major studio tentpole films, but his recent activities suggest that might be changing
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Ryan Gosling may finally be ready to take on a big studio franchise.

The actor has in the past resisted joining superhero-style tentpole movies, especially those that would require him to appear in sequels. But now there are signs that Gosling might be softening his stance.

In recent weeks, the 33-year-old actor has met with Marvel Studios to discuss starring in the title role in Doctor Strange, and he is fielding an offer to topline Summit’s adaptation of The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero. Sources also say he is being courted to star in Suicide Squad, David Ayer's take on the DC Comics supervillain team at Warner Bros.

Marvel has been casting a wide net for Strange ever since talks with Joaquin Phoenix broke down. Sources say that Jared Leto and Justin Theroux have been chasing the role, while Ethan Hawke’s name also has surfaced as has Keanu Reeves'.

Read more Warner Bros. Announces 10 DC Movies, 3 Lego Movies and 3 'Harry Potter' Spinoffs

It is unclear when the movie would go into production, but Marvel has staked out a July 8, 2016, release date.

Houdini, with Dean Parisot attached to direct, was to have starred Johnny Depp, but the actor will be filming a new installment of Pirates of the Caribbean for almost half of 2015. Summit ideally would like to get going before that.

Ayer's Suicide Squad is still in early development and the script is being worked on. But that is not stopping the filmmaker and the studio from making overtures for what is to be an A-list ensemble piece filled with colorful antiheroes. Sources say that Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Tom Hardy also are fielding offers. Warners had no comment.

Now, there is no guarantee that Gosling will spark to any of these projects. The actor has been perfectly content making more modest movies such as The Place Beyond the Pines or focusing his attention on directing. Even when he does a studio movie it’s not the usual fare, instead opting for projects such as Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad — both for Warner Bros. — for which the chances of sequels are small. Even now, he is in preproduction on The Nice Guys, a 1970s-set noir co-written and being directed by Shane Black, and sources say he and co-star Russell Crowe took pay cuts from their usual fees.

Read more 'Nice Guys' With Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe Arriving Summer 2016

Unlike most other actors in his age group, Gosling can be especially choosy. He has said no to superhero fare before due to his desire not to be tied down to future movies. For instance, Gosling was keen on taking the role of Hal Jordan in Green Lantern, but balked at a contract that called for sequels, so Ryan Reynolds got the part and the movie flopped.

Gosling did attach himself at one point to a Logan’s Run remake, but that was only because it was going be directed by his Drive helmer Nicolas Winding Refn and he felt comfortable with the Danish director and believed in the vision. Whether sequels were ever envisioned is unclear since both ended up moving off of the project.

Still, some producers and agents aren't entirely convinced we're seeing a new Gosling. "I'll believe it when I see it," jokes one producer.

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