Casting of Sciorra ends long search for femme lead

Annabella Sciorra is hammering out a deal to star in Interscope’s romantic drama “What Dreams May Come” to star opposite Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding Jr., ending what was an exhausting search for a female lead. Polygram Filmed Entertainment is currently looking for Japanese equity investment for 20% of what has now become a budget hovering around $80 million.

Sciorra’s casting comes as several others had passed on the project, including Annette Bening, Michelle Pfeiffer and Meryl Streep. Although the female lead is a pivotal and substantial role, the producers were only offering $500,000 — a far cry from Gooding, Jr.’s payday of $1.5 million. Gooding is playing the second lead, that of a tracker who helps Williams move into the depths of purgatory to find his wife.

The story revolves around the relationship between Williams and his wife and the love between them that is so strong that it propels him even after his own death.

Bening opted for the drama “Blue Vision” at DreamWorks for director Neil Jordan. Pfeiffer is developing a number of projects, including a project about the life of Marianne Faithful as well as “The Last Waltz,” while Streep is close to a deal to star in the indie film “Dancing at Lughnasa.”

Vincent Ward (“Map of the Human Heart”) is directing the film, which is based on the book of the same name by Richard Matheson. Ron Bass adapted the novel and is also exec producing. Ted Field, Scott Kroopf and Erica Huggins are producing in association with Metafilmics.

Sciorra’s credits include the Cannes debuter “Cop Land” and “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.” She is repped by WMA’s Lee Stollman and Danny Sussman.

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