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Bridges takes on ‘Wild Bill’ for UA

Jeff Bridges will strap on his six-guns in the first oater of his career, taking the title role in United Artists’ “Wild Bill,” the studio announced Friday.

Bridges will saddle up as James Butler Hickock, the legendary gunfighter who roamed the badlands of South Dakota in the 1870s.

Aside from modernistic takes on Western themes such as “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot,” Bridges has never done a they-went-that-away pic.

The thesp is red hot off critically acclaimed perfs in “Fearless” and “American Heart.” The latter won him the 1993 best actor nod at the recent Independent Spirit Awards.

“Jeff Bridges is unquestionably one of today’s most gifted and respected actors,” said United Artists Pictures prexy John Calley in a statement. “We are sure his talents will contribute greatly in the success of this exciting project.”

The pic, skedded to start lensing in May, is helmed and scripted by Walter Hill. Producers are Richard D. Zanuck and Lili Fini Zanuck.

The project’s script combines elements from several sources: Thomas Babe’s play “Fathers and Sons,” Pete Dexter’s screenplay of his novel “Deadwood” and a script by Ned Wynn (also called “Wild Bill”).

Bridges will next be seen in MGM’s July 1 release “Blown Away,” in which he plays a bomb-squad expert who goes head to head with genius bomber Tommy Lee Jones.

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