‘Dogville’ leashes a lead

Skarsgard, Cartlidge among thesps to join

Nicole Kidman is in talks with Danish helmer Lars von Trier to topline his next pic “Dogville.”

She’s currently recuperating from a knee injury that knocked her out of Columbia’s “The Panic Room” (Daily Variety, Jan. 26), and is set to begin work on Stephen Daldry’s “The Hours” in London in May.

Von Trier, who won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival last year with “Dancer in the Dark,” is likely to hold off on a start date until he gets Kidman, whom he had in mind when he started writing the pic’s script. The $10 million drama will likely roll after the pending SAG strike.

“We have no actual start date,” said the pic’s producer Vibeke Windelov, “But we want to do it when we get the right actors.”

Windelov added that the pic is “a powerful drama” but that von Trier does not want to reveal much more about the storyline other than that it is set in a small American town in the 1930s.

Other thesps lined up to join “Dogville” include Stellan Skarsgard (“Good Will Hunting”) and Katrin Cartlidge (“Career Girls”), both of whom starred in von Trier’s “Breaking the Waves.” But given the pic’s undetermined start date, it is unsure if they would still be available at a later date.

Much like “Dancer,” “Dogville” will focus on intense characterizations and emphasize music and sound. The music for “Dancer” was composed by Bjork, who also played the lead in the pic and won the acting prize for it in Cannes. Windelov said she’s eyeing a major songwriter for “Dogville” — “but not Bjork,” she added.

Pic will be shot in Swedish studios Film i Vast, located near Gothenburg. Co-producers along with von Trier’s Zentropa are Sweden’s Memphis Film, France’s Liberator and Slot Machine, Norway’s 4 1/2, Holland’s What Else? and Finland’s Edith Film.

Kidman’s upcoming pics are Miramax’s “Birthday Girl” and fellow Oz native Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge.” It has been reported she is also in talks to do “The Sixteen Pleasures,” which is set up with her manager Marc Epstein at Handprint Entertainment.

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