Screentalk: Tom Hardy is soldiering on with Samarkand

Tinseltown insider

Tom Hardy (above) is helping to develop Samarkand into a star vehicle for himself. Written by Greg and Olly Williams, the script revolves around an SAS soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder and his struggles to fit back into society. Greg Williams will make his directorial debut with the film.

Apocalypse now for the Bird man

The North American rights for a manuscript written by Josh Malerman, the frontman of rock group The High Strung, were bought by HarperCollins imprint Ecco for six figures at auction in August. Now Bird Box, the story of a woman and two children in a seemingly post-apocalyptic setting, has been optioned by Universal.

New moves for Mad Men star

Mad Men's Miss Farrell aka actress Abigail Spencer, who is currently on screen in Oz the Great and Powerful, has signed up for Beautiful Now. Written by Daniela Amavia, who will also direct, the film details the story of a passionate dancer who finds herself considering an extreme act when she reaches a crossroads in her life.

Cooper's caught in the Webb

Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has its Green Goblin. Chris Cooper, Oscar-winning star of Adaptation, has signed to play Norman Osborn, a pivotal character in the franchise and the alter ego of the Green Goblin, played by Willem Dafoe in the original Spider-Man trilogy.

Bettany finds Transcendence

Paul Bettany is in negotiations to join Johnny Depp in Transcendence, the directorial debut of Wally Pfister, Christopher Nolan's longtime director of photography. The film, which starts shooting later this year, is a sci-fi actioner, with Depp starring as an inventor who creates a computer that develops “a malevolent awareness”.

No Oscar glory for the Golden girl

Tina Fey, comedian, film and TV star and, since hosting the Golden Globes with Amy Poehler, awards darling, is not looking for Oscar emcee glory. Seth MacFarlane has said that he is unlikely to return in 2014 so Fey has been asked if she'd do it next year. She's dismissed the idea noting that she would spend too long trying on dresses.