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    Surprising Replacement for Heath Ledger

    Heath Ledger Ash Knotek/ZUMAPress.com

    The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus may not be the only flick to get an über-odd cast rewrite because of Heath Ledger's passing. Cine-sources are telling us that before his death in January, Heath was signed on to star in an indie drama revolving around politics in Thailand, to be shot in the fave Aussie holiday spot.

    H.L. was excited for the project, as were the filmmakers, till the worst happened. The movie must go on, tho, and the pic's producers had to recast. Which unlikely actor did they choose to fill Heath's shoes?

    Richard Gere, of all people, is the dude we're told (by members of the production) who was picked to take over for Heath's acting duties on this Thailand-set indie.

    Gere's not exactly Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell or Jude Law, all three who helped complete Parnassus. Strange, too, is that Rich isn't anywhere close to the same type as Ledger. "The film had to be rewritten a little," says a key source working on the project, when they switched the character from a hunky, brooding guy in his mid-20s to, uh, Gere. Yeah, just a bit.

    "Not true," says R.G.'s rep on his involvement in such a project, tho it is true sometimes celebs get attached to films unofficially while the filmmakers are still seeking funding. Indeed, our original source stands by the Gere selection. But now that we're thinkin' about it, gotta wonder how Gere woulda pulled off the Joker. Not too terrifying a villain anymore, huh?

    Additional reporting by Becky Bain

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