Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Chelsea Lately host Chelsea Handler has landed a juicy role opposite Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy and Chris Pine in This Means War, the McG-directed 20th Century Fox comedy. Handler will play the best friend and confidante of a woman (Witherspoon) who is lusted after by two best friends. The pals are CIA agents who wage an escalating war for her affection. Overbrook’s James Lassiter and Will Smith are producing with Robert Simonds and Simon Kinberg. This marks Handler’s second studio role, as she just completed the Universal Pictures/Illumination Entertainment CG-live action film Hop, which stars Russell Brand.

The film deal comes at a time when the E! host has hit the bestseller list with her third book, Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang, with her first two, My Horizontal Life and Vodka, It’s Me, Chelsea still on the paperback lists. She just hosted the Video Music Awards and her stand-up comedy tour has sold out in 80 cities. She begins shooting This Means War later this month.

Handler, who previously played roles in two movies I never heard of–Cattle Call and Steam–is going against the grain in terms of chat hosts who chase movie careers. Success has eluded most late night talk show hosts, who all have feature films on their resumes. Who can forget David Letterman’s turn as the old salt in the fishing village in Cabin Boy, Jay Leno’s star turn in Collision Course, or Conan O’Brien’s work in the 1996 laffer Good Money, appropriately playing the role of Coco? Jon Stewart had the most success, appearing in Death to Smoochy, Big Daddy and Playing By Heart, but nobody’s begging him to give up his night job.

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