Colin Firth


HOLLYWOOD —  Jared Leto, who won an Oscar for playing a trans-sexual in “Dallas Buyers Club,” is changing his image with the science-fiction thriller “Brilliance.” (Will Smith, originally cast, had to bow out to star in Ridley Scott’s next film). The movie is about children born savants (aka “brilliant”), with special powers. Leto plays a government master hunter tracking down savant terrorists intending to start a civil war.

Talk about irony! Colin Firth, an Oscar winner for “The King’s Speech,” has bowed out of providing the voice for “Paddington,” the accident-prone young bear. Firth admitted, “It’s been bittersweet to see this delightful creature take shape, and come to the sad realization that he simply doesn’t have a voice. I’ve had the joy of seeing most of the film, and it’s going to be quite wonderful.” Have no fear, though. Firth is in Woody Allen’s new comedy, “Magic in the Moonlight,” with Emma Stone and Marcia Gay Harden, out July 25; the mystery thriller “Before I Go to Sleep,” with Nicole Kidman, out later this year; and the British spy-thriller “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” with Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Caine, out Oct 24.

Jay Leno’s gone but not forgotten! He’ll be this year’s recipient of The Mark Twain Prize (won last year by Carol Burnett). Leno receives his prize at The Kennedy Center Oct. 19, and on PBS Nov. 23. Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said, “Like Mark Twain, Jay Leno has offered us a lifetime’s worth of humorous commentary on American daily life. For both men, no one was too high or too low to escape their wit, and we are all the better for it.”

“Harry Potter’s” Rupert Grint will make his Broadway debut in Terrance McNally’s 1982 comedy, “It’s Only a Play.” Grint, recently on the London stage in “Mojo,” will attract young “Potter” fans, while Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick’s reteaming after their Broadway mega-hit “The Producers” will be a huge draw. “It’s Only a Play” also will have “Will & Grace’s” Megan Mullally, “Grease’s” Stockard Channing (she played Betty Rizzo) and “Amadeus” Oscar-winner F. Murray Abraham. It will open Oct. 9 for a limited run; better plan your trip and order your tickets now.

Charlie Hunnam had to bow out of “50 Shades of Gray” because of commitments to “Sons of Anarchy” and Guillermo del Toro’s “Crimson Peak,” with Jessica Chastain and Tom Huddleston (out in October 2015). He explains, “When you put time into something like that and a character comes alive in your mind, it’s heartbreaking not to be able to play him.” To Hunnam fans hoping to see him in various stages of nudity, it’s more like 50 shades of disappointment!

© 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.