23 OCTOBER 2007

US screen star Mark Wahlberg has stepped in at the last minute to save King Kong director Peter Jackson's new movie. The sudden move came after Canadian actor Ryan Gosling made a shock exit from the lead role on the eve of lensing new drama Lovely Bones.

Twenty-six-year-old Ryan - who earned an Oscar nomination last year for his performance in Half Nelson and had put on 20lbs for his new role - cited "creative differences" for his departure from the project on Friday, reports film industry trade paper Variety. The script was then rushed to Mark - himself an Oscar-nominee for The Departed - who agreed to take over the reins, allowing filming to begin on Monday in Philadelphia.

The 36-year-old actor now joins The Mummy Returns actress Rachel Weisz on the set of the ghostly drama, playing a couple whose life is shattered after the murder of their daughter, who watches over her family - and her killer - from heaven.

Last minute cast changes are nothing new to the film's New Zealand-born director. Just days into lensing his hit Lord Of The Rings trilogy, Peter had to replace Irish actor Stewart Townsend with Viggo Mortensen for the role of Aragorn in the fantasy adventure.

Photo: ©
The Ontario-born actor, who earned an Oscar nomination for his performance in Half Nelson, left the cast of Lovely Bones on the eve of filming. He had already put on 20lbs and grown a beard in preparation for the rolePhoto: © Getty Images
Photo: ©
Stepping in to fill his shoes on King Kong director Peter Jackson's ghostly drama is US actor Mark Wahlberg Photo: © Getty Images