According to Hollywood Reporter, the Wachowski Brothers are close to casting their Speed Racer! Driving his way into multiplexes next year may be...drumroll, please...Emile Hirsch! Based on the beloved 1960's Japanese animated series, Speed Racer will be directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, creators of The Matrix. So who is Hirsch? Much like Tobey Maguire before he exploded with a little superhero picture called Spiderman, Hirsch has been bubbling just under the radar for several years now. He's earned critical praise for his work in a lot of smaller movies, like the tiny gem The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys. He did a terrific job in the underrated teen comedy The Girl Next Door, and appeared in two recent "troubled youth" movies, Lords of Dogtown and this year's Alpha Dog.

Hirsch will get a lot more exposure this year; he's got two projects set for release: The Air I Breathe with Kevin Bacon, and Into the Wild, the highly anticipated adaptation of Jon Krakauer's excellent book. That film should be out in September, and is being written and directed by Sean Penn. It also stars William Hurt, Catherine Keener, and Vince Vaughn. Vaughn was the one who originally pitched Speed Racer, but producer Joel Silver has denied Vaughn will play a role in the film. If you believe TMZ.com, Hirsch got an offer for Speed Racer yesterday, and his agents are no doubt working that Ari Gold magic to guarantee Hirsch a future spot on the mystical "A-list." I'll admit to not knowing a great deal about the cartoon, but Hirsch feels like the kind of choice that will please fans. Speed Racer recently moved its release date up a couple weeks to May 9th, 2008 to avoid competing with a certain archaeologist.