If you were Daniel Craig, would you pass up the opportunity to work with Fernando Meirelles in order to make an Edward Zwick liberal guilt epic?
I'm hesitant to editorialize on this one because I don't have all of the details, but the talk all over Hollywood today is that Craig is off Blindness, Meirelles's adaptation of Jose Saramago's brainy science-fiction novel about an unnamed city being plunged into chaos by a white blindness epidemic. The book is a complex depiction of societal collapse (Devin aptly referred to it in his '06 news item as "George Romero with glaucoma instead of zombies"), and is really more about (very nihilistic) ideas than narrative, which is why many were heartened that a smart, visually gifted filmmaker like Meirelles attached himself to the project. Add Craig and Julianne Moore to that equation and it sounded like the Children of Men of 2008.
Subtract Craig, and Meirelles might as well start lobbying for Clive Owen, because there aren't too many other bankable leads who can entice audiences to try something outside of their comfort zone. (Actually, Craig hasn't proven that he's a draw outside of the Bond franchise; The Invasion will be the heat check - i.e. unless Warner Brothers dumps the troubled picture.) In Meirelles's favor is the fact that he's very popular with actors after The Constant Gardener, but he needs to get this movie going soon before his artistic cachet diminishes.
As for why Craig jilted Meirelles, I sure hope it wasn't about the money, but the difference in budget between Blindness ($28 million) and Defiance ($50 million) is significant. Another deciding factor might've been the size or importance of the role: the doctor in Blindness could be a supporting part (depending on Don McKellar's adaptation), while Defiance sounds like a lead. Let's hope Craig's questionable decision doesn't sink Meirelles's movie. We'll keep you posted.