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Naomi Watts Out, Nicole Kidman In For Werner Herzog’s Sweeping ‘Queen of the Desert’

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | The Playlist September 8, 2013 at 12:53PM

Like a mirage that seems to vanish in the arid air, Naomi Watts has departed Werner Herzog’s new film, “Queen of the Desert,” but been replaced by someone of equally impressive star magnitude in Nicole Kidman. The news comes out of the Toronto International Film Festival, which is where all news should be coming out of this week. The film co-stars James Franco and Robert Pattinson and tells the story of real-life 20th century explorer Gertrude Bell. Expect lots of sand and those old timey explorer helmets.
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Nicole Kidman Cannes

Like a mirage that seems to vanish in the arid air, Naomi Watts has departed Werner Herzog’s new film, “Queen of the Desert,” but been replaced by someone of equally impressive star magnitude in Nicole Kidman. The news comes out of the Toronto International Film Festival, which is where all news should be coming out of this week. The film co-stars James Franco and Robert Pattinson and tells the story of real-life 20th century explorer Gertrude Bell. Expect lots of sand and those old timey explorer helmets.

The casting switcheroo isn’t unique for the project, which charts Bell’s involvement in the formation of the Middle East at the dawn of the 20th century, as Jude Law was originally slated for the production, only to be replaced by Franco.

“Queen of the Desert” will mark Herzog’s first narrative feature since 2009’s perplexing pseudo-thriller “My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?” and the Nicolas Cage-led, WTF-worthy cult classic in the making (or maybe it’s there already) “The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.” Since then he’s garnered much more attention for his often hypnotic documentaries, things like 2010’s indie smash (in 3D no less) “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” and 2011’s death row examination “Into the Abyss.” It should be interesting to see Herzog back in the narrative game, especially with a film that promises to provide such a large canvas.

Kidman will star as, in the words of the report, an “iconic explorer, writer, archeologist and attaché for the British Empire.” We can see Kidman really sinking her teeth into the role, which is described as having a similar vibe as “Lawrence of Arabia.” Sounds pretty killer to us.

The actress can be seen at Toronto in “The Railway Man” (you can read our review right now), which is currently seeking acquisition and will be all over the Oscar prognosticators' forecasts when “Grace of Monaco” (where the star plays Grace Kelly) is released by The Weinstein Company on November 27th.

This article is related to: Nicole Kidman, Werner Herzog, Queen Of The Desert, James Franco, Robert Pattinson