When a famous Hollywood movie star returns to his native Chicago in March, the local film industry will have its first informal ambassador to Hollywood, to interest other Chicagoans in the movie business to come back home to work.
Actor Billy Zane –star of “Titanic” and an amazing 110 other movies and TV shows over a 28-year span – has joined Cinespace studios as executive producer.
“Billy’s mission will be to develop business for Cinespace, both locally and from Hollywood,” says Alex Pisseos, Cinespace general manager. He also will be in a position to help encourage and grow the indie cinema community.
While the actor will continue to work in L.A. — he has roles in three movies in production and one in development – he has long wanted to turn his talents to behind-the-camera as a director.
Zane has a slate of low-budget dramas he would like to direct and act in, and his new association with Cinespace should make it easier to find funding and attach name actors. The films would, of course, be produced at Cinespace.
The tall, handsome Zane, who turns 47 on Feb. 24, caught the acting bug in his early teens while he attended Francis Parker high school. After graduation, he headed for Hollywood and within three weeks, he had won his first big screen role in “Back to the Future.”
He was originally cast as the lead in “Dirty Dancing,” but lost it to Patrick Swayze when the choreographer realized Zane couldn’t dance.
Meanwhile, at Cinespace: The $40 million teen dystopia epic “Catbird,” (formerly “Divergent”), directed by Neil Burger, is in preproduction for an April shoot there. It will be filming in three stages, covering 600,000-sq. ft. of space.
The official “Catbird” cast so far consists of Shailene Woodley (“The Descendants”) and the imminent possibility that Kate Winslet will accept an unspecified role at this time.