Steve Zahn is in negotiations to star in Crusader Entertainment’s “Sahara” with Matthew McConaughey.

Zahn will portray Al Giordino, the wisecracking sidekick to McConaughey’s Dirk Pitt character. “Sahara,” based on the Clive Cussler action-adventure novels, will be directed by Breck Eisner and shoot in the U.K. and Morocco.

Zahn, repped by Endeavor and managed by LMRK, was most recently in “Daddy Day Care,” and he is filming “Employee of the Month” for Bull’s Eye Entertainment. He will be seen next in Lions Gate Films’ “Shattered Glass,” portraying the reporter who revealed that journalist Stephen Glass was inventing many of his stories.

Crusader announced last year that it had greenlit an adaptation of “Sahara” as the first film to be based on the Pitt character in Cussler’s bestselling novels. “Sahara” focuses on McConaughey’s character thwarting an attempted assassination of a U.N. scientist investigating a raging epidemic in North Africa that threatens to extinguish life in the world’s seas.

Crusader signed a three-year, first-look U.S. distrib deal with Paramount in 2001. Par agreed last year to distribute “Sahara” Stateside and in the U.K., Italy, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.