Billy Bob Thornton To Join 'The Alamo'

Disney has begun negotiations with Billy Bob Thornton to play the role of Davy Crockett in the remake "The Alamo," reports Variety.

The period drama will begin shooting in January under the direction of "The Rookie" helmer John Lee Hancock. Studio hopes to have it in theaters for the 2003 holidays. Pic will cost $75 million or so.

Hancock was hired in late July to replace Ron Howard, who ankled the project earlier that month after a difference of opinion over budget and rating. Howard wanted to make a gritty pic that could have gotten an R rating and would have cost $125 million or more.

Hancock went right into rewrite mode on Steve Gaghan's rewrite of a John Sayles script. Hancock is two weeks away from turning in a final draft.

Thornton will play Crockett, one of the more heroic roles in the drama.

Over the next week or so, Disney will reapproach Ethan Hawke for the role of William Travis, a scoundrel who wound up a hero in the siege. And the studio will see if Russell Crowe is still game to play the role of Sam Houston. Crowe had been set, but he'd made room in his busy schedule mainly for the chance to reteam with Howard, his director on "A Beautiful Mind." Crowe has an unanticipated opening in his schedule because the early 2003 start date of the Ridley Scott-directed Fox drama "Tripoli" was pushed back one full year.

If Crowe doesn't strap on the six-shooters, the studio is confident that it won't have a problem with Houston because the role is so heroic. One mentioned possibility is Viggo Mortensen, who, aside from reprising his heroic Aragorn role in the "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," just starred in the Joe Johnston-directed Disney Western "Hidalgo."

Once casting and script are squared away, locations will be a snap because the studio already has constructed the entire "Alamo" set. It's waiting in Austin, Texas.

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