Just last week the news emerged that Angelina Jolie has dropped out of Alfonso Cuaron’s space epic, Gravity. This was a potentially troubling development considering the degree to which the film relies on its female lead, and the studio seemed intent on Jolie starring, offering her the role twice. However, Hollywood Reporter now has word that the role Jolie turned down is now Natalie Portman’s to accept or decline. Impressed by her performance in the The Black Swan, the studio has allowed Curaon to offer her the role. Portman is apparently “expected to read the latest version of the script this week and make her decision shortly.”

The film is set to start shooting in January, with Robert Downey Jr taking on an important side role. Work on the tremendous amount of special effects involved in pulling off Curaon’s ambitious plans have already begun.

There are few replacements for Jolie that I would welcome as warmly as Portman- she’s a lovely actress who consistently performs with a subtle mix of vulnerability and strength that brings power to all of her roles. With The Black Swan only just beginning to get in front of eyeballs, she’s already garnered an impressive amount of praise (being offered the lead in an $80 million cosmic Cast Away, not least among it), and awards talk began before the film was even completed. Gravity would be an opportunity to follow up the buzz with a showcase film that is both epic, and almost entirely focused on her. It’s a career choice that, by all appearance, make sense. We’ll see.

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