"Precious" star Gabourey Sidibe and "Crash" actor Michael Peña have joined the cast of Universal's "Tower Heist," the studio has confirmed to TheWrap.
Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy star in Brett Ratner's New York-set caper, which follows an overworked building manager who leads some low-level employees at a luxury high-rise on a mission to even the score with a Bernie Madoff-like Wall Street crook (Alan Alda) who looted their pensions and is now living under house arrest in a lavish penthouse apartment.
While it remains unclear who Sidibe and Peña will be playing, their casting bodes well for the project, as both are unique talents. The Oscar-nominated actress has proven that she is not a one-hit wonder with her impressive performance opposite Laura Linney on Showtime's "The Big C," which demonstrates that Sidibe is nothing like the character she played in "Precious."
Meanwhile, Peña has been one of my favorite actors since he first came to my attention in the Best Picture-winning "Crash" in 2005. When I sat behind Rev. Al Sharpton at a press screening of the film in New York, I could see tears streaming down his cheeks during Peña's "invisible cloak" scene and remember thinking to myself "and with that, a star is born."
Sure enough, Peña has delivered on that initial promise, and since then has appeared in the searing dramas "Babel" and "World Trade Center," as well as the Seth Rogen comedy "Observe and Report."
Peña's star is only going to grow in stature, as he next stars in "Everything Must Go" alongside Will Ferrell, and he'll soon be seen in Jonathan Liebesmann's highly anticpated alien invasion film "Battle: Los Angeles" and Lionsgate's adaptation of "The Lincoln Lawyer." He currently stars opposite Danny McBride on HBO's "Eastbound and Down," and is set to re-team with McBride (and Aziz Ansari) in Ruben Fleischer's comedy "30 Minutes or Less," which also stars Jesse Eisenberg.
"Tower Heist" is next on Peña's docket, with Ratner's "Rush Hour" collaborator Jeff Nathanson currently rewriting the latest draft of the screenplay by Ted Griffin ("Ocean's 11"). For a more detailed description of the story, check out the recently published script review at ScriptShadow, which is based on an earlier draft of the screenplay.
Imagine Entertainment's Brian Grazer will produce, while Murphy will exec produce with Imagine's Karen Kehela Sherwood and Kim Roth.
Tracy Falco, Kristin Lowe and creative exec Jay Polidoro will oversee the project for Universal.
Sidibe recently wrapped Victoria Mahoney's indie drama "Yelling to the Sky," which stars Zoe Kravitz and Tim Blake Nelson. She is represented by UTA and Principal Entertainment, while Pena is repped by CAA and Management 360.
The "Tower Heist" casting news was first reported by Deadline.