Collette has closer look at U’s ‘Boy’

'Sense' thesp negotiating to play opposite Grant

Toni Collette (“The Sixth Sense”) is in negotiations to play the female lead opposite Hugh Grant in the Weitz Brothers-directed “About a Boy” for Universal Pictures.

The $30 million-budgeted “Boy,” which Universal picked up in turnaround from New Line Cinema in January (Daily Variety, Jan. 26), is set to start shooting April 16 in London.

“Boy” the bigscreen adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel, is a comedy-drama starring Grant as a wealthy, 36-year-old, womanizing slacker whose fear of commitment leads him to seek out relationships with single mothers on the grounds that they are easier to leave. His plans go awry, however, when he becomes best friends with the 12-year-old son of his latest target (Collette).

Pic originally was set up three years ago by Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro’s New York-based Tribeca Prods. at New Line. At U, “Boy” now is being produced by Working Title Films and Tribeca. Working Title has a long-standing relationship with Grant following their collaborations on such hit pics as “Notting Hill” and “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” as well as the upcoming “Bridget Jones’ Diary.”

Working Title also has a relationship with Hornby after adapting his previous novel “High Fidelity” for Disney. That pic starred John Cusack and Jack Black; Cusack also produced and co-scripted.

Chris and Paul Weitz, the brothers behind U’s teen hit “American Pie” and its upcoming sequel “American Pie 2,” came onboard to direct “Boy” in December.

Collette , who is repped by UTA, currently is shooting a small role in “The Hours” for producer Scott Rudin and Paramount Pictures and most recently worked opposite Samuel L. Jackson in “Changing Lanes” for Paramount.

The Australian actress next will be seen in Norman Jewison’s “Dinner With Friends,” an HBO telepic in which she stars opposite Dennis Quaid, Andie MacDowell and Greg Kinnear. Pic is slated to air in August.

Her other feature credits include “Shaft,” “Muriel’s Wedding,” “Emma,” “Velvet Goldmine” and Aussie indie “The Boys.”

Collette was nominated for a Tony award for her performance on Broadway in “The Wild Party.”