A cast is falling into place for the project that will bring Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising series of fantasy books to the big screen. Deadwood's lovable Al Swearengen (Ian McShane) will star, along with Frances Conroy and Alexander Ludwig. First published in the 60s and 70s, the series chronicles a struggle between two opposing forces, known simply as The Light and The Dark. The main character is a boy who learns that he is endowed with special powers that will allow him to do battle against The Dark and must accept training from an old mentor. (Did George Lucas pay someone royalties for this?)

McShane will star as Merriman Lyon, one of the 'Old Ones' who serves as the kid's mentor. The film will be one of the first to be handled under a new joint-venture between 20th Century Fox and Walden Media, and the team bringing it to the big screen includes director David Cunningham, previously known for helming the Path to 9/11 for television, screenwriter John Hodge, who wrote Trainspotting and A Life Less Ordinary (my favorite movie) and producer Marc Platt, whose credits include Legally Blonde, Legally Blonde 2, and the upcoming Untitled Kirsten Dunst Project.