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Dwayne Johnson feeling Bay’s ‘Pain’

Mark Wahlberg also pursued for bodybuilding comedy

After a decade in development, Michael Bay’s “Pain and Gain,” a low-budget (by his standards) dark comedy about bodybuilders, is finally moving forward, as Dwayne Johnson is in early talks to topline the long-gestating pic.

Bay has been looking to cast Johnson and his “The Other Guys” co-star Mark Wahlberg as the two steroid-abusing leads, and recently discussed the film with both thesps. While insiders caution that it’s still early in the casting process, sources close to Wahlberg have indicated that his busy schedule is expected to keep him from pursuing Bay’s passion project, for which Johnson remains a frontrunner.

Based on a Miami New Times article from 1999, “Pain and Gain” will follow a pair of Florida bodybuilders who get caught up in an extortion ring and a kidnapping scheme that goes terribly wrong.

“Captain America” scribes Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely wrote the original script and have compared its tone to the Coen brothers’ “Fargo,” which was also based on a true crime story.

Long-gestating dark comedy, which is said to carry a modest $20 million price tag and does not yet have an official greenlight, is set up at Paramount and will be produced by Bay and Donald De Line, who has been involved with the project since 2001.

Johnson has been working non-stop since helping to usher “Fast Five” to the highest gross in Universal’s “Fast and Furious” franchise. With “Pain and Gain” expected to start production in the spring, Johnson would be able to squeeze the film in before returning for the sixth and seventh entries in “Fast” series, which Universal would ideally like to shoot back-to-back beginning next year. Johnson, who returns to family fare with “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” Feb. 10, recently wrapped “G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation” and will soon begin filming Ric Roman Waugh’s action thriller “Snitch.”

Several projects are in contention for Wahlberg’s next gig, including Universal’s “2 Guns” and Adam McKay’s football comedy “Three Mississippi.” In recent years, Wahlberg has mixed comedies such as “The Other Guys” and “Date Night” in between dramatic turns in “The Fighter” and “The Lovely Bones.”

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