Brazilian magazine, SET, has posted an interview with THE LORD OF RINGS actor Sean Astin, where he mentions being in the running to direct the FANTASTIC FOUR feature. Upon the success of his short film, THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT, which he filmed while making LORD OF THE RINGS, he has had interviews to direct 20th Century Fox's feature adaptation of the Marvel comic classic. The article quotes the budget between $100 to $130 million. Steven Soderbergh (OCEAN'S ELEVEN) is also rumored to be in the running and a favorite of the studio because he would bring producing partner George Clooney onto the project to star as Reed Richards. Astin said, "Yeah, but I'm a friend of George Clooney too (laughs). I think he would make a perfect Reed Richards." When asked who Astin would get to play the Human Torch, he said his RINGS co-star Orlando Bloom. DOWN WITH LOVE director Peyton Reed had long been attached to direct, but he dropped out in the fall of 2003. The SET article states that Fox hopes to get the picture out by the end of the year, but previous more realistic studio estimates have the film pegged for a July 1, 2005 release.