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Friday, 5 April, 2002, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
Kidman will not perform for Mendes
Nicole Kidman
Kidman was a big hit in Mendes' The Blue Room
Hollywood star Nicole Kidman will not be starring in celebrated stage director Sam Mendes' final plays at the Donmar Warehouse.

The news ends months of speculation over Kidman's possible involvement, following her previous success in Mendes' Donmar production of The Blue Room.

A double bill of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and Shakespeare's Twelfth Night will end Mendes' high-profile decade as artistic director of the central London theatre.

Sam Mendes
Mendes leaves at the end of 2002
But British actress Emily Watson - a star of the recent Oscar-winning Gosford Park - will be appearing in the shows, which will run in the Autumn.

Kidman had discussed different roles in both plays with Mendes, but never signed up to appear in the roles, a spokeswoman for the Covent Garden-based venue told BBC News Online.

Mendes - who also directed the multiple Oscar winning movie American Beauty - said in November 2001 it was "time to hand the Donmar on to another generation".

Movie star

Watson, who played chief housemaid Elsie in Gosford Park, will play Sonia in the Chekhov play alongside Simon Russell Beale's Vanya.

She will play Viola to his Malvolio in Twelfth Night.

Casting continues, though other confirmed company members are Mark Strong and David Bradley.

British actress Emily Watson
Watson first won acclaim in Hilary and Jackie

Before Gosford Park, Watson appeared in the film of Frank McCourt's memoir Angela's Ashes.

She also starred as the cellist Jacqueline du Pré in Hilary and Jackie and the movie adaptation of Julian Barnes' novel Metroland.

Before Watson takes to its stage, the Donmar will play host to Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who will star in Proof in May.

Uncle Vanya runs from 5 September to 20 November, and is joined by Twelfth Night in repertory from 11 October to 30 November.

See also:

31 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Emily takes some light relief
07 May 01 | Showbiz
Watson supports NSPCC's e-campaign
06 Nov 01 | Oscars 2002
Altman meets Agatha in Gosford Park
19 Nov 01 | Film
Mendes' Midas touch
19 Nov 01 | Showbiz
Mendes confirms Winslet affair
18 Jan 02 | Oscars 2002
Kidman's rollercoaster year
01 Feb 02 | Arts
Paltrow heads for London stage
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