Robert Pattinson is attached to play Lawrence of Arabia in Queen of the Desert, Werner Herzog's biopic of Gertrude Bell.
Naomi Watts is starring as Bell, described as the female Lawrence of Arabia for the impact the English woman had in the Middle East and her work in establishing what would become the modern framework for Jordan and Iraq. She was an explorer, writer, archeologist and political attache and worked for British Intelligence during World War I.
Pattinson will play T.E. Lawrence, the archeologist-turned-British Army officer who played key roles in Middle Eastern revolutions in the same time period and became close friends with Bell. Peter O'Toole earned an Oscar nom for portraying the explorer in the 1962 classic Lawrence of Arabia.
Herzog wrote the screenplay. Nick Raslan is producing with Cassian Elwes.
A fall shoot in Jordan and England is being eyed.
The move keeps Pattinson firmly in the world of independent film. One of the world's most recognizable stars, the actor is this week promoting Cosmopolis, his drama directed by David Cronenberg. He is set to star with Guy Pearce in the postapocalyptic indie The Rover as well as Mission: Blacklist, an indie thriller about Saddam Hussein's capture.