‘HORSE’ WOMAN CAST

Scott Thomas near a deal for Redford pic

Oscar nominee Kristin Scott Thomas appears set to star in “The Horse Whisperer” opposite Robert Redford for Touchstone Pictures. The actress is also likely to do “Age of Aquarius,” which Harrison Ford is currently looking at for Universal Pictures. “Aquarius” has now been pushed to February.

With Thomas aboard and a new script in hand from Richard LaGravenese, the studio will finally be able to move forward on “Horse Whisperer” for an April 7 start with Redford at the helm. “Whisperer” is being produced by Redford and Rachel Pfeffer through their Wildwood Prods.

Thomas, who was nominated for her role in Anthony Minghella’s “The English Patient,” will star as the woman who becomes entwined in the life of a man who tames horses after her daughter is severely injured in a riding accident. Several other top actresses had been attached to the role, including Susan Sarandon and Emma Thompson.

Although no deal is sealed, negotiations are under way for the actress after a fruitful meeting with Redford about two weeks ago. Still to be cast is the co-starring role of the 13-year-old girl, which Natalie Portman had previously been attached to. Portman left last November to star in the Broadway production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.”

“The Horse Whisperer” is based on the novel by Nicholas Evans and sold in a fast and furious bidding war in 1994 for a whopping $3 million. The project was one of the first brought under the then-new regime of Joe Roth. Eric Roth had originally adapted the book for a price of $1 million. Over $4 million has been spent on the project so far.

ICM’s Steve Dontanville is repping Scott Thomas in the deal.

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