Kate Winslet has signed on to replace Nicole Kidman for the lead role in the Weinstein Co.’s Stephen Daldry film The Reader. Kidman left the project on Monday and cited her pregnancy as the reason for dropping out of the picture.Variety reported the film was set to start shooting in late 2007 in Berlin and the eastern city of Goerlitz. Filming with Kidman (who had yet to shoot any scenes in the film) was scheduled to start this month. News started circulating on Tuesday that Winslet had been chosen to take over the Kidman role and would star opposite Ralph Fiennes and David Kross.
The film’s story unfolds against the landscape of post-war Germany and follows fifteen-year-old Michael Berg who is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age, when he falls ill on the way home.
The pair have passionate affair until she disappears one day. He next sees her when he is a young law student, and she is on trial for a hideous crime. Michael gradually realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.
Winslet was the first choice for the film, but was unable to take the part due to a schedule conflict with Revolutionary Road â€“ which reteams her with Titanic co-star Leonardo DiCaprio and was directed by Winslet’s husband Sam Mendes. Kidman (who recently confirmed she is expecting a baby with husband Keith Urban) took the role after the filmmakers built in a break in shooting to accommodate her schedule with the Baz Luhrmann-directed Australia â€“ which had a longer production than expected. Kidman stars in that film with Hugh Jackman.
Producing duties on The Reader are being handled by Mirage Prods. partners Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella. The film has a budget of E2.8 million ($4.1 million) made up from regional and federal film subsidies in Germany. It has been pre-sold to a number of foreign distributors, including Senator Film for Germany and Austria, Ascot Elite Entertainment for Switzerland and Odeon in Greece.