Swank eyes ‘Gift’ pact

Kinnear replacing Eldard

NEW YORK — Fresh from winning the Golden Globe for “Boys Don’t Cry,” Hilary Swank is nearing a deal to join the cast of the Sam Raimi-directed drama “The Gift.”

Greg Kinnear is set to replace Ron Eldard in a lead role. They are poised to join Cate Blanchett, Keanu Reeves, Giovanni Ribisi, Katie Holmes, Michael Jeter (“Green Mile”), Gary Cole, J.K. Simmons (“Oz”) and Chelcie Ross (“A Simple Plan”) — a strong cast for a film being made for under $10 million. Lakeshore Entertainment is financing the pic, which will be distributed by Paramount Classics.

Swank would play a woman, physically abused by her husband (Reeves), who turns to a psychic (Blanchett) for counsel. Kinnear will play a school principal who consults the psychic for answers after his wife-to-be (Holmes) disappears.

Kinnear, who landed the role after Eldard dropped out for creative reasons, recently completed “What Planet Are You From,” the Mike Nichols-directed comedy with Garry Shandling and Annette Bening, and the Neil LaBute-directed “Nurse Betty,” with Renee Zellweger, Morgan Freeman and Chris Rock.

Kinnear is now filming the Amy Heckerling-directed “Loser,” with Jason Biggs and Mena Suvari.

Swank’s repped by William Morris, which would not confirm the actress has accepted the offer. Kinnear is repped by CAA and managed by Basic Entertainment.

Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson penned “The Gift.” Jim Jacks, Tom Rosenberg and Rob Tapert are producing; Gary Lucchesi and Sean Daniel are exec producing. Filming begins Feb. 3 in Savannah.

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