Thesp's in tow for cop thriller pic

Russell Crowe has signed to star in helmer John Polson’s indie thriller “Tenderness” for Gotham-based GreeneStreet Films.

Thesp will lense the project for Polson in May before heading into production on Universal’s “American Gangster” in July, and then Baz Luhrmann’s untitled period epic, opposite Nicole Kidman, early next year.

“Tenderness” was adapted by scribe Emil Stern from the novel by Robert Cormier.

Pic follows a violent teenager, Eric, whose life intertwines with Lori, a 16-year-old runaway who can’t resist his charm. Crowe will play Lieutenant Cristofuoro, a cop who sets out to unravel Eric’s complex past.

People close to Crowe say the thesp has been hankering to work with Oz directing talent, such as fellow Aussie Polson (“Hide and Seek”). Their ties trace to when they acted together, playing soldiers in the World War II pic “Prisoners of the Sun” in 1990.

“Tenderness” will be produced by GreeneStreet prexy John Penotti, with Charles Randolph and Howard Meltzer. GreeneStreet’s Fisher Stevens and Tim Williams are exec producing.

CAA is repping domestic rights, while GreeneStreet’s international arm will handle foreign sales.

GreeneStreet, which previously produced Polson’s 2002 teen thriller “Swimfan,” recently signed Aaron Eckhart to star in its upcoming comedy “Bill,” penned by Melisa Wallack.

Banner is also at work on the romantic comedy “The Pleasure of Your Company” and is in post on “Awake.”

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