Clutch of thesps vying for roles opposite Saoirse Ronan

With Andrew Niccol’s “In Time” hitting theaters over the weekend and the beginning of the end in sight for Stephenie Meyer’s “The Twilight Saga,” the writer-director and bestselling author are turning their attention to the casting of “The Host,” a feature adaptation of Meyer’s sci-fi novel that will be distributed in the U.S. by Open Road Films

Saoirse Ronan (“Hanna”) is attached to star as protag Melanie Stryder, whose body is invaded by an alien named Wanderer, also to be played by Ronan. In the coming days, producers will begin testing actors for the pic’s two male leads.

Liam Hemsworth (“The Hunger Games”), Kit Harington (“Game of Thrones”), Jai Courtney (“One Shot”) and Max Irons (“Red Riding Hood”) will test for the role of Jared, Melanie’s boyfriend. Dane DeHaan (“In Treatment”), Thomas McDonnell (“Prom”), Augustus Prew (“The Borgias”) and Ronan’s “Lovely Bones” co-star Jake Abel will test for the role of Ian, who brutalizes Wanderer before falling in love with her.

Chockstone Pictures principals Steve Schwartz and Paula Mae Schwartz are producing with Nick Wechsler and Meyer, who wants “The Host” to be the first of a trilogy.Novel debuted at #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list, and remained on the list for 26 weeks.

Inferno’s Marc Butan, Jim Seibel and Bill Johnson will exec produce the pic, while Roger Schwartz will co-produce. “The Host” is being financed by the producers and Inferno, which is handling sales.

Production is skedded to start early next year in Louisiana and New Mexico, as Open Road will release the film on March 29, 2013.

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