Ron Howard is still hoping to get The Dark Tower off the ground with lead star Javier Bardem apparently still attached (though it looks like wishful thinking to us), the Oscar winning director is stepping up a gear on his next picture, the racing drama Rush. Scripted by The Queen and Frost/Nixon writer Peter Morgan, the movie is based on the life of Formula 1 racer Niki Lauda and his near-fatal 1976 racing season which coincided with the rivalry he and Englishman racer James Hunt shared. In a significant coup, Howard attached Thor actor Chris Hemsworth for the James Hunt role earlier this year with Inglourious Basterds actor Daniel Bruhl set as the Austrian racer Lauda. Variety updates us on the project today with the news that German actress Alexanda Maria Lara, who I know best as Hitler's sympathetic new secretary in Downfall but who has also appeared in The Reader, Youth Without Youth and Miracle at St. Anna, has landed herself a role in the film. Presumably Lara is someone's love interest but her part is as yet unspecified. Howard is hoping to shoot Rush in Germany and the U.K. late 2011 or early 2012, basically once Hemsworth has finished his work on Snow White and the Huntsman. In the mean time, Howard is casting up to showcase an intriguing project for a distributor to pickup and we think Universal, who killed The Dark Tower, would be much happier to afront the money to showcase this atypical Howard picture which has all the pedigree for an Awards season fare. Plus Howard's company Imagine and Working Title are co-financing and their home is Universal based, so it seems a given.... Really, really looking forward to this one.