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Sunday, May 16, 1999 Published at 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK


Hardy goes west - featuring Madonna

Madonna: Coming soon to a Kingdom near you?

Madonna is set to star in a Western film version of the Thomas Hardy novel The Mayor of Casterbridge.

British director Michael Winterbottom is reported to be on the verge of signing the former material girl for the £12.5m BBC Films production - to be titled Kingdom Come.

"It is a fantastic part for her and she will be brilliant in it," Mr Winterbottom was quoted as saying at the Cannes Film Festival.

[ image: Winona Ryder: Considering a leading role]
Winona Ryder: Considering a leading role
Winona Ryder is also considering a role in the film, which is to be set amid the Californian gold rush of 1860s.

BBC Films was entirely responsible for script development, and will be partially financing the new film, according to spokesman Paul Almond.

Mr Almond said Madonna was considering a "significant" though not a starring role in the film.

The part being considered by Winona Ryder was a leading role, he said.

Kingdom Come, to be produced by Andrew Beaton, will be the second Hardy adaption which Winterbottom has directed for BBC Films.

Previously he directed Jude - based on Hardy's Jude the Obscure.

'Sarajevo' director

Winterbottom is known for the harrowing docudrama Welcome to Sarajevo.

He is at Cannes with his latest film, Wonderland - another Andrew Beaton production which has received warm reviews at Europe's most prestigious film festival.

Wonderland was shot on location in London, with a tiny crew and no artificial lighting.

Ordinary Londoners played the parts of extras - often barely aware they were on camera.

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