It looks like late-game substitutions aren’t just limited to the soccer field. According to a report from Deadline, Canadian comedian Will Arnett is set to replace Armie Hammer in the upcoming soccer comedy Next Goal Wins from director Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok). Hammer‘s role in the Searchlight Pictures movie, which Arnett is now set to assume, was that of an executive at Football Federation American Samoa. Reportedly, the size of the role is now being increased for Arnett, with Hammer‘s earlier involvement in the film being little more than a cameo.
Waititi, who won an Academy Award in 2020 for Best Adapted Screenplay for Jojo Rabbit, is adapting the true story of the American Samoa soccer team, viewed as the worst team in the world, looking to turn things around in time for the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The team hires a former soccer player and coach in need of a break, Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender), to help them turn things around. Not an easy feat, as the team is best remembered for losing their 2002 World Cup qualifying match against Australia with the unprecedented score of 31-0.
Along with Fassbender and Arnett, Next Goal Wins—inspired by a 2014 documentary of the same name—also stars Elisabeth Moss, and Oscar Kightley. Notably, Waititi also cast newcomer Kaimana in the role of Jaiyah Saelua, the first non-binary soccer player to play in the FIFA Men’s World Cup. Kaimana is ‘fa’afafine,’ a Samoan term for a third gender, and Waititi stressed that it was important for Saelua to not be played by a cisgender actor. The choice is an important step towards inclusivity, and towards making sure that the stories being portrayed onscreen are told by those best equipped to tell them.
This is not the first of Hammer‘s projects that he has exited in recent months, following a public controversy and eventual investigation by the LAPD. The embattled actor also stepped down from his role as Al Ruddy, producer of The Godfather in the Paramount+ series about the making of Francis Ford Coppola‘s 1972 crime drama, as well as roles in the political drama Gaslit, a romantic comedy alongside Jennifer Lopez, and a role on Broadway. Despite this, as of right now, Hammer can still be seen in Kenneth Branagh‘s Death on the Nile, which is expected to hit theatres in February 2022.