The actress? Sarah Gadon, a 26-year old Canadian thespian who has had substantial roles in David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis and A Dangerous Method, as well as Brandon Cronenberg's Antiviral.
Woodley was long ago cast as the rebooted version of Mary Jane in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. She filmed for three days on the sequel, completing a role that was said to be very small, but was a setting of the table for The Amazing Spider-Man 3, in which the character would have a greater role.
But on Wednesday, we learned that Mary Jane has been cut entirely from the first sequel, with reports that the character would likely be recast for future installments. Returning director Marc Webb explained, "I made a creative decision to streamline the story and focus on Peter and Gwen and their relationship. Shailene is an incredibly talented actress, and while we only shot a few scenes with Mary Jane, we all love working with her.”
Gadon has definitely joined the series. Entertainment Tonight Canada confirmed the news straight from the actress herself, tweeting:
That's all the solid information we have right now. But the internet Speculate-O-tron is firing on all cylinders for obvious reasons.
Some rumors assert that Gadon is set to play the new Mary Jane Watson, with some saying that she'll replace Woodley in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which would make a public fibber out of Webb. According to other unverified rumors, Gadon isn't playing MJ at all, but is instead a different and thoroughly mysterious character.
There's also the possibility that she's not involved in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 at all, but is instead a very early addition to the third film. Sony made its intentions for the future of the franchise clear this week, announcing summer 2016 and 2018 release dates for third and fourth installments. So perhaps Webb and company are just looking to the horizon.
One explanation for Woodley's excision is her commitment to Divergent, the young adult adaptation in which she stars next year. Summit Entertainment has franchise plans for that one, and if Woodley's making three Divergent sequels over the next few years, it could seriously interfere with her ability to participate in continued webslinging adventures.
Gadon, then, could be a replacement with no such potential scheduling issues. Or she's just playing an entirely different character. We don't even know which sequel she'll be in. Stay tuned for more.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is set to hit theaters on May 2, 2014. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone both reprise their roles from the reboot, along with Sally Field and a cameo for our man Martin Sheen. Dane DeHaan and Chris Cooper are playing the rebooted versions of Harry and Norman Osborn. Jamie Foxx and Paul Giamatti, meanwhile, are playing villains Electro and The Rhino.