Brigitte Nielsen has been cast in “Adi Shankar’s Gods and Secrets” superhero-themed TV action series, taking over the villain role vacated by Mark Salling, who was indicted last year for receiving and possessing child pornography.
Shankar, who is independently producing the half-hour show, told Variety that Nielsen plays a “modified version” of Salling’s character. The director re-shot scenes with the Danish-born thesp earlier this month and said “Gods and Secrets” is now in post-production.
“I just kind of reached out to her,” Shankar said, saying he’s been in touch with Nielsen ever since he was trying to put together an all-female movie adaptation of “The Expendables” five years ago.
Nielsen’s casting in “Gods and Secrets” was confirmed by her rep at Henderson Represents Inc. She’s perhaps best known for her turns in ’80s movies “Rocky IV,” “Red Sonya” and “Beverly Hills Cop II.”
Re-shooting the scenes with Nielsen required bringing back other actors to the set, Shankar said: “The planning alone was ridiculous. It was going to make me pull my hair out.”
Will Yun Lee (“Hawaii Five-0,” “The Wolverine”) also is part of the ensemble cast, Shankar revealed. The series stars Kellan Lutz, Denise Richards and Jane Seymour, along with a cast that includes Jackson Rathbone, Edi Gathegi, Sharni Vinson, Derek Mears and Chaz Bono.
Shankar was cagey on plot details of “Gods and Secrets” plot, a thriller about the dark side of a world populated with superheroes. He said the show is a “super-secret passion project… an homage to everything I loved growing up” — namely, a childhood steeped in playing video games.
The series is co-directed by Stewart Yost, scripted by Shawn DeLoache from a story by Shankar. Shankar doesn’t have an expected release date for “Gods and Secrets” and has yet to line up a distributor.
Shankar, 32, recalled that he was midway through production on “Gods and Secrets” when the charges against Salling were filed. “I hit the pause button because it was such a whirlwind… All this went down at the worst possible time for me both personally and professionally,” he said.
He continued, “This was a very difficult thing for me. My name is in the show. I got dragged in to all that stuff.”
In the wake of Salling’s indictment, Shankar pledged to partner with a charity for abused children. He said he is teaming up with a technology company to create a solution to combat child exploitation online, but declined to provide details just yet. “I don’t want to simply write a check,” he said. “Photos are getting taken of kids and getting put online, and that’s super f—ed-up.”
Meanwhile, Shankar is busy with several other projects. He serves as showrunner for Netflix’s animated “Castlevania,” a medieval fantasy based on Konami’s classic vampire-killing video game series. Season one of “Castlevania” premiered July 7 – and Netflix last week greenlit a second season, doubling the episode order to eight.
“‘Castlevania’ was made by fans for fans. This is something I grew up loving,” said Shankar. Asked what’s in store for season two of the series, he likened it to the difference between the original “Halo” video game and “Halo 2”: “‘Halo 2’ had all the elements from ‘Halo 1,’ but was more expansive,” he explained.
Shankar also has been tapped by Ubisoft to develop an animated series based on the “Assassin’s Creed” video game, and he’s co-producing a new film with Joseph Khan (with details on that project yet to come).
“I’m a gamer first,” said Shankar, “and movie guy second.”