Kidman may join Crowe in Aussie romance. She's in talks to star in ''Eucalyptus,'' with fellow Aussie Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush also on board

By Gary Susman
Updated October 12, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe: Fred Hayes/

Early reports from the production of the romance Eucalyptus suggested that Russell Crowe and director Jocelyn Moorhouse were rejecting the idea of casting The Village star Bryce Dallas Howard as the female lead because they wanted an Australian actress, preferably an unknown. Instead, they may end up with Crowe pal Nicole Kidman. According to Variety, Fox Searchlight is in talks with her to join what would be a cast made up entirely of Australian Oscar-winning actors, since Geoffrey Rush is also on board.

Moorhouse (How to Make an American Quilt), who’s also the co-screenwriter, is hoping to begin production early next year on the movie, an adaptation of a novel by Murray Bail. In the story, a widower (Rush) permits his sheltered daughter (the Kidman role) to marry, but only a suitor who can correctly name the species of each of the thousands of eucalyptus trees on his New South Wales estate. (And you thought the Baltimore Colts trivia quiz Steve Guttenberg made his prospective bride take in Diner was tough.) But the woman is already in love with a man (Crowe) who has enchanted her with a story to correspond with each tree.

If Kidman gets the role, she may chalk it up to karma. After all, Howard won the role of Grace, Kidman’s Dogville protagonist, in the upcoming sequel Manderlay after Kidman dropped out of that picture.