Mark Wahlberg has just saved The Lovely Bones from an early grave.

Wahlberg gave the ballyhooed project a last-minute reprieve, agreeing to join the cast of Peter Jackson's adaptation of the Alice Sebold bestseller after Ryan Gosling dropped out a day before cameras were due to roll.

Gosling, who packed on 20 pounds and grew a beard for the Bones part, bailed on Friday, citing "creative differences."

That sent filmmakers scrambling to find a leading man with an open calendar to keep the Oscar-bait production on track. The call went out to Wahlberg, who, according to Variety, read the script and agreed to fill in, enabling Jackson to avoid any serious disruptions to his first film since 2005's blockbuster King Kong remake.

Gosling, who scored an Oscar nomination for his performance in the 2006 indie drama Half-Nelson and has earned stellar reviews for his new blowup-doll love story, Lars and the Real Girl, had been set to star opposite Rachel Weisz as grieving parents whose lives unravel after their young daughter is brutally raped and murdered.

Wahlberg, himself an Academy Award nominee for last year's Best Picture winner, The Departed, agreed on Sunday to take over the patriarchal part, per the trade.

With Wahlberg on board, shooting began Monday in Philadelphia before moving on to the filmmaker's native New Zealand.

Jackson snapped up the rights to the ghostly story after the novel was published in 2002. He and coproducer Fran Walsh adapted the book with longtime collaborator Philippa Boyens.

While changing a leading man on the eve of a shoot is certainly nerve-wracking, Jackson has been in this spot before, having replaced Stuart Townsend with Viggo Mortensen just days before production kicked off on Lord of the Rings.

Wahlberg, currently oncreen opposite Joaquin Phoenix and Robert Duvall in the crime thriller We Own the Night, is familiar with the City of Brotherly Love, having starred as a former Philadelphia Eagle in Invincible and recently wrapping M. Night Shyamalan's latest, The Happening.

While Bones marks Wahlberg's first starring role for Jackson, it's not their first collaboration. The Kiwi director made a brief cameo in last season's Entourage, the HBO comedy series executive-produced by Wahlberg.

After The Lovely Bones, Wahlberg will get in the ring with Brad Pitt for Darren Aronofsky's The Fighter and then segue into The Brazilian Job, a sequel to 2003's The Italian Job.


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