Hugh Jackman won't play Marc Antony in Soderbergh's CLEO but which British hard man will play Julius Caesar?

The sizable failure of Baz Luhrmann's sweeping love story epic AUSTRALIA may have cost Stephen Soderbergh his leading man for his equally ambitious $30 million historical 3-D rock musical CLEO. Variety report that Hugh Jackman has dropped out of talks for the film, presumably turned off by the reaction of AUSTRALIA and not wanting to put his career on the line by starring in another big budget risk for an unusual genre effort. The trades say "inside scheduling conflicts" is the reason, which could equally be true. We know he is set to play Houdini on stage in 2011 and will want plenty of prep time for it which I've heard may also be shot as a movie at the same time. Soderbergh now has the arduous task of finding a replacement for Jackman, he needs an actor with the same kind of presence, stature and acting chops who can also sing and dance to play opposite Catherine Zeta-Jones' Cleopatra. Not easy. But that talks is for another time because the trades have gotten word that Ray Winstone, suddenly one of Britian's most in demand actors for big budget movies is in talks to play Julius Caesar. Wow, if you thought Winstone playing Beowulf was unbelievable, what about the image of him playing the most famous leader of Rome... 18818709 (wow, apparently the Winstone story is a month old. I didn't realise I had been slacking so much in December!)

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Matt Holmes is the co-founder of What Culture, formerly known as Obsessed With Film. He has been blogging about pop culture and entertainment since 2006 and has written over 10,000 articles.