Thesp will star in Lee Daniels' follow-up to 'Precious'

EXCLUSIVE: John Cusack is set to co-star in Lee Daniels’ “The Paperboy,” an indie drama that marks the helmer’s follow-up to “Precious.”

Ensemble pic stars Zac Efron, while Nicole Kidman and Matthew McConaughey are also in advanced negotiations for key roles.

Cusack replaces Tobey Maguire, who was forced to drop out of the project when its shooting schedule conflicted with his dates on “The Great Gatsby.”

Based on the 1995 novel by Pete Dexter, Florida-set period pic finds two brothers, a reporter and a college dropout, teaming up to investigate a possible miscarriage of justice surrounding a death row inmate convicted of killing the local sheriff.

Cusack will play the condemned prisoner, while Kidman will play a woman with a dark side who writes letters to men on death row.

Daniels is producing along with Hilary Shor. Avi Lerner, Trevor Short, Danny Dimbort and Cassian Elwes exec produce, while Millennium/Nu Image is handling foreign sales.

Cusack recently wrapped the indie comedy “Dictablanda,” which he also co-wrote and produced through his New Crime Prods. banner. Thesp will soon be seen playing Edgar Allan Poe in James McTeigue’s “The Raven,” which Relativity Media opens March 9, 2012.

Cusack is repped by CAA.

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