The 'Race' is on for Martinez


Natalie Martinez is negotiations to star as the romantic lead opposite Jason Statham in "Death Race," Universal Pictures' remake of the Roger Corman cult classic being directed by Paul W.S. Anderson.

"Race" sees a future America in which prison inmates are forced to brutally compete in an enclosed arena. Statham is starring as a prisoner who, with only weeks to go before his release, is coerced into being a driver in a road rally to the death and becomes a crowd favorite called Frankenstein.

Martinez will play Case, a woman who is assigned to be Statham's navigator and ends up assisting him in his plan to escape the prison. She joins a cast that includes Joan Allen, Ian McShane and Tyrese Gibson.

Shooting is scheduled to start this month in Montreal.

Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner are producing via their C/W Prods. along with Anderson and his Impact Pictures partner Jeremy Bolt.

This is the first feature for Martinez, a former model for Jennifer Lopez's clothing line who jumped into acting as one of the stars of MyNetworkTV's "Fashion House" and "Saints & Sinners." She is repped by Innovative, 1 Management and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller & Hoberman.