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Alexander Skarsgard swings into ‘Tarzan’ frontrunner

Thesp is David Yates' choice for Warner Bros. adaptation

Alexander Skarsgard has emerged as the frontrunner to topline David Yates’ “Tarzan” movie at Warner Bros.

The “True Blood” star is Yates’ choice to play the vine-swinging hero, sources tell Variety. Skarsgard doesn’t have an offer and the studio hasn’t finalized any casting decisions for the film, which has yet to go before the studio’s greenlight committee.

However, with a summer start date being planned, it is expected to be greenlit before the end of the year, as Warner is high on Yates and wouldn’t tie up his schedule with a movie it has no intention of making.

Warner Bros. and Skarsgard’s reps had no comment.

Should Yates convince Warners brass to sign off on the casting, the 6’4″ Swedish thesp would play John Clayton III, aka Tarzan. Years after he’s reassimilated into society, he’s asked by Queen Victoria to investigate the goings-on in the Congo. Tarzan teams with an ex-mercenary named George Washington Williams to save the Congo from a warlord who controls a massive diamond mine. Samuel L. Jackson is being eyed to play Williams.

Yates, who has been connected to the project for several months but only officially committed last week, has had an array of actors to choose from, including Henry Cavill, Charlie Hunnam and Tom Hardy, all of whom topline upcoming Warners pics. Cavill and Hardy play the title characters in WB franchises “Man of Steel” and “Mad Max: Fury Road,” respectively, while Hunnam stars in Guillermo del Toro’s “Pacific Rim.” Sources say that execs were wary of having Cavill anchor a second franchise before “Man of Steel” opens. Meanwhile, Hardy has been looking to tackle a small, character-driven project such as Fox Searchlight’s “Animal Rescue.”

Yates directed the last four entries in WB’s “Harry Potter” franchise, so he has enough clout on the studio lot to get execs to sign off on his choice of a leading man.

The studio is keen to be in business with Skarsgard, who stars in the upcoming low-budget thriller “Hidden” with Andrea Riseborough. Skarsgard is also attached to star in “The Vanguard,” a Viking-themed epic written by Chris Boal that WB will produce with Atlas Entertainment.

A bigscreen adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ series of novels, “Tarzan” is being produced by Jerry Weintraub, Alan Riche and Peter Riche of Riche Prods. and Mike Richardson and Keith Goldberg of Dark Horse Entertainment. Numerous scribes worked on the script including John August, Cormac and Marianne Wibberley and most recently, Adam Cozad.

Skarsgard will next be seen in the indies “Disconnect” and “What Maisie Knew,” both of which premiered at Toronto in September.

He’s repped by CAA, Principal Entertainment L.A. and attorney Gretchen Rush, while Jackson is repped by ICM Partners, Anonymous Content and Jackoway Tyerman.

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