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McConaughey mulls joining ‘Newton Boys’

Matthew McConaughey is in final negotiations to star in Richard Linklater’s “Newton Boys.” In the 20th Century Fox pic, McConaughey will play the leader of the U.S.’ most successful gang of bank robbers, who discreetly knocked over financial institutions from Texas to Toronto.

The Newton Boys were an actual gang of brothers who treated their life of crime like a business and practiced their craft in a nonviolent fashion during an era in which the horse-drawn carriage gave way to the motor car.

The casting marks a reunion for the director of “Slacker” with one of Hollywood’s newest leading men. McConaughey got an early break when Linklater cast his fellow Texan in his sophomore film, “Dazed and Confused.”

Since then McConaughey has starred in Warner Bros.’ “A Time To Kill” and John Sayles’ “Lone Star,” and currently is working on Robert Zemeckis’ “Contact” for Warner Bros.

Linklater’s credits include Castlerock’s “Before Sunrise” and the upcoming bigscreen adaptation of Eric Bogosian’s “subUrbia.”

Tentative start date for “Newton Boys” is April 1, with Anne Walker-McBay producing and John Sloss shouldering executive producing chores. The project, which is based on a novel by Claude Stanush, was brought into Fox more than a year ago by Fox Filmed Entertainment president and chief operating officer Bill Mechanic after Castlerock put it in turnaround. (Daily Variety, Oct. 24, 1995). Since then a number of other performers have been mentioned for leads, including Ethan Hawke, who is starring in Fox’s “Great Expectations.”

Creative Artists Agency is repping McConaughey on the deal.

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