Johansson mounts ‘Horse’ for Redford

Newcomer Scarlett Johansson, who just finished a small part in “Home Alone III” for 20th Century Fox, has landed the coveted role of the young girl in the Robert Redford-Kristin Scott Thomas starrer “The Horse Whis-perer” for Touchstone Pictures, sources said. The project goes before the cameras April 7 with Redford directing.

The 12-1/2-year-old Johansson bested four other actresses to star in the drama about a little girl who is injured in a riding accident and the love that blossoms between her mother (Thomas) and a man who tames horses (Redford). The role is not the first major one for Johansson. She previously starred in “Manny & Lo” for Sony Pictures Clas-sics.

The role opened up after Natalie Portman dropped out of the project to play the title role in “The Diary of Anne Frank” on Broadway (Daily Variety, Nov. 25).

The project, based on the novel by Nicholas Evans, sold in a bidding war to the studio in 1994 for $3 million. “The Horse Whisperer” is being produced by Redford and Rachel Pfeffer through their Wildwood Prods. The project was rewritten by Richard LaGravenese (“The Fisher King,” “The Mirror Has Two Faces”) after Eric Roth (“Forrest Gump”) adapted the book.

Johansson was repped in the deal by WMA’s Emily Gerson-Saines and Jane Rosenberg.

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