March 27, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

”Lord of the Rings” costar Sean Astin will soon be lord of a drug ring. According to the Hollywood Reporter, he’s in final negotiations to star in ”The Mule,” along with ”Blade” baddie Stephen Dorff. It’s based on the true story of two Hollywood stuntmen who, needing quick cash during an actors’ strike in the ’90s, began running Ecstasy from Amsterdam to Los Angeles. Soon, however, the operation grew out of control.

Dorff is also producing the $17 million indie movie, which Australian Geoffrey Wright (”Romper Stomper”) will direct. The film will shoot on location in London and Amsterdam in June, after Astin finishes shooting the romantic comedy ”50 First Kisses,” starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. Astin also has to go back to New Zealand to add final touches to ”The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King,” due in December. Apparently, the rest of the cast is already hiding out there; at the Oscars this week, every time Best Picture nominee ”The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” was mentioned, Astin seemed to be the only one in the audience.

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