Holy, Thank You for Smoking switcheroo, Batman!
A few weeks after Katie Holmes confirmed she will not be returning as Bruce Wayne/Batman's love interest in next year's The Dark Knight, the production has gained her Smoking costar instead.
Aaron Eckhart, who's up for Best Male Lead at next week's Independent Spirit Awards for playing savvy spin-meister Nick Naylor in the Jason Reitman-directed satire, has been tapped to play villain Harvey Dent, aka Two Face, in The Dark Knight.
So, while Holmes will be starring (and presumably having no extended sex scenes) in the low-budget comedy Mad Money with Queen Latifah, Eckhart will be putting in major hours in the makeup chair to take on the role of the district attorney turned scarred maniac, previously embodied by an over-the-top Tommy Lee Jones in Batman Forever.
But Eckhart's deformed evil genius who was once played by an Oscar-winning actor is not to be confused with Heath Ledger's deformed evil genius once played by an Oscar-winning actor.
Following in Jack Nicholson's memorable footsteps, Ledger will suit up as a young Joker opposite Christian Bale's Batman in director Christopher Nolan's next foray into the bowels of Gotham City.
Meanwhile, Michael Caine will be back as Alfred, Morgan Freeman returns as gadget expert Lucius Fox, and Gary Oldman will put in more time as police officer Jim Gordon, the title Gordon had to start with before being named commissioner.
Before he starts flipping that two-faced coin, however, Eckhart stars alongside Catherine Zeta-Jones in the romantic comedy No Reservations and plays the title character in Bill, costarring Jessica Alba.
Nolan most recently directed Bale in the dueling-magicians drama The Prestige, and since reinventing the Caped Crusader in 2005, Bale has also starred in the heist drama Harsh Times; Terrence Malick's retelling of the story of Pocahontas, The New World; Werner Herzog's gritty POW nail-biter Rescue Dawn, due out Mar. 30; and Todd Haynes' feature-length rumination on Bob Dylan, I'm Not There Yet.
Bale is also set to star in the western 3:10 to Yuma with Russell Crowe, due out sometime next year. And at some point, he's going to have to start pumping iron to fill out that Batman suit.
Warner Bros. is aiming for a July 2008 release for The Dark Knight.