'State' subs Affleck for Norton role


"State of Play" has undergone another player substitution.

Edward Norton has dropped out of the Kevin Macdonald-directed drama, and Ben Affleck is set to step into Norton's role in the Universal/Working Title film.

The news of Norton's departure follows the high-profile exit in November of Brad Pitt, who left the production citing script concerns. That, in turn, led Universal to raise the possibility of legal action against Pitt.

Russell Crowe was quickly recruited to replace Pitt in the film written by "Lions for Lambs" scribe Matthew Michael Carnahan. With Crowe on board, the film's production start date was moved from November to January (HR 12/4).

Because of the change in start date, Norton, who also is set to produce and star in the indie comedy "Leaves of Grass," found himself with a schedule conflict. So he asked Universal if he could be replaced so that he could fulfill his commitment to the Tim Blake Nelson-directed "Leaves."

Affleck, who like Norton is repped by Endeavor, stepped in to take over the role of an ambitious politician who finds himself engrossed in a murder conspiracy.

He'll join Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright Penn and Jason Bateman in the film. Andrew Hauptman and Working Title partners Tim Beven and Eric Fellner are producing.