Savage gets ‘Message’

'Deer Hunter' thesp trapping new roles

John Savage, the actor remembered for his powerful performance in the 1978 Vietnam war movie “The Deer Hunter,” has signed to star opposite Kevin Costner in Warner Bros. upcoming drama “Message in a Bottle,” lending another boost to a newly resurgent bigscreen career.

Savage will play Johnny Land, a shrimp fisherman who’s the former brother-in-law of Costner’s character.

Robin Wright Penn, Paul Newman and Jesse James are also starring.

Pic is being produced by Denise Di Novi, Costner and Jim Wilson. Luis Mandoki (“When a Man Loves a Woman”) is directing from a screenplay by Gerald Dipego (“Phenomenon,”) based on the Nicholas Sparks novel. David Lester is exec producing. Production starts shooting in April, on locations in Virginia, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Savage has a substantial role in Terrence Malick’s World War II drama, “The Thin Red Line,” from Phoenix Pictures, which will come out this year. And he’s got the lead role with costars Nastassja Kinski and Ryan Phillippe in the Antonio Tibaldi-helmed indie feature “Little Boy Blue,” also due out this year.

Recent credits include a cameo in last fall’s well-received ABC movie “Oprah Winfrey Presents: Before Women Had Wings.” Other films include “White Squall” and “Inside Moves.”

Savage, who lived in South Africa for seven years during the 1980s and 1990s, has had parts in numerous TV projects during the past three years, such as “The X-Files” and “The Outer Limits.”

Savage’s “Message” deal was brokered by his manager Michael Wallach and agent Bettye McCartt of the Artists Agency.

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