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May 15, 2011

As his star has risen in the last few years, Chris Pine has become known primarily for action roles — his reprisal of the Capt. Kirk character in “Star Trek” in 2009, or as the upstart train man to Denzel Washington’s veteran rail rat in “Unstoppable.”

But those who have sensed that Pine has more serious acting chops could get a chance to see them in a new drama.

The actor is in talks to star in a new movie called “Mud,” a coming-of-age story that will be written and directed by emerging Cannes director Jeff Nichols and produced by “Memento” producer Aaron Ryder, according to a source close to the project who asked not to be identified because talks were ongoing.

In an interview Sunday, Ryder declined to comment on the status of the Pine talks. But he did confirm the project and described it as in the vein of “Stand by Me,” essentially a drama about figuring out one’s place in the world.

Nichols is the filmmaker behind the supernatural-tinged drama “Take Shelter,” which is playing in the Critics Week section at the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie, which stars Michael Sheen and Jessica Chastain, had a strong showing at Sundance and will hit theaters later this year.)

Nichols’ new movie will center on two 14-year-boys who come across an adult fugitive of the law, the titular Mud (who would be played by Pine) and must help him escape off an island in the Mississippi. The ambiguity of the story lies with Mud, who is both an unsavory and a redemptive character and who teaches the boys as much as he learns from them.

The riverside setting and coming-of-age motif will inevitably draw comparisons to Huckleberry Finn, though the film will be set in the contemporary world.


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