Brit actress Williams ascends ‘Rushmore’

NEW YORK — Olivia Williams, who was plucked from the British stage by Kevin Costner to be his co-star in “The Postman,” has landed the female lead alongside Bill Murray in “Rushmore,” the Touchstone film to be directed by Wes Anderson (“Bottle Rocket”) and produced by Barry Mendel and Paul Schiff.

The project, scripted by Anderson and Owen Wilson, is about a 15-year-old who falls in love with his teacher, played by Williams. Murray plays a man who befriends the kid, but eventually shapes up as his rival for the teacher.

The stage-trained Williams, whose big credit was a British TV production of “Emma,” got a career-making opportunity when she beat out numerous established screen actresses for “Postman.” She was sent by her ICM London agent Sally Long Innes to test for Costner, and was in wardrobe later that afternoon.

Innes now reps her with ICM’s George Freeman and Risa Shapiro.

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