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Posted: Wed., Sep. 30, 2009, 4:31pm PT

Hugh Jackman boxed in for Levy

Actor in talks to star in 'Steel' for DreamWorks

Hugh Jackman

Jackman

Hugh Jackman is in talks to star in the Shawn Levy-directed "Real Steel" for DreamWorks.

Project is a "Rocky"-esque tale of a fighter who has to reinvent himself when human boxers are replaced by robots. Jackman is negotiating to play the ex-fighter, who becomes a struggling Robot Boxing promoter and finds a discarded robot that always seems to win. He also discovers he has a 13-year-old son, and they bond as the robot brawls its way toward the top. 

John Gatins is rewriting the current draft with Levy, and the studio is eyeing a May production start.

Angry Films' Don Murphy and Susan Montford are producing. Exec producers are Steven Spielberg and ImageMovers troika Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey. Levy also is a producer.

Levy, who just completed the Fox comedy "Date Night" with Steve Carell and Tina Fey, came aboard the project several weeks ago. The studio hopes to get underway before next summer.

Jackman is starring opposite Daniel Craig in the Broadway play "A Steady Rain," which opened Tuesday night at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater. Jackman and Craig play lifelong best friends and partners on the Chicago police force. The play finishes its sold-out run Dec. 7. 

"Real Steel," which was originally scripted by Dan Gilroy, has been rewritten by Les Bohem and then Gatins. 

The premise is based on a short story by Richard Matheson. Pic reps a reunion between Matheson and Spielberg; Matheson wrote Spielberg's directing debut, the 1971 telepic "Duel," and was story editor on Spielberg's "Amazing Stories."

The early works of Matheson —who is still writing in his 80s — continues to inform current Hollywood films. That includes the Will Smith starrer “I Am Legend,” the upcoming Richard Kelly-directed Cameron Diaz starrer “The Box,” the Imagine/Universal comedy "The Incredible Shrinking Man," and Summit Entertainment’s “Countdown,” which is based on Matheson’s short story “Death Ship” and was scripted by "Wanted" writers Michael Brandt and Derek Haas.

Jackman is repped by WME.

Contact the Variety newsroom at news@variety.com

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