Nicole Kidman Looks at Elephants in Mandalay's ‘Our Wild Life’ (Exclusive)

Phillip Noyce is attached to direct a movie about Dame Daphne Sheldrick, the renowned wildlife conservationist who worked to prevent elephant extinction in Kenya

EXCLUSIVE

Nicole Kidman is eyeing the lead role in "Our Wild Life," a sweeping drama about Dame Daphne Sheldrick, a Kenyan wildlife conservationist renowned for her work with elephants, an individual close to the project has told TheWrap.

The drama is the type of movie that Hollywood used to make, like "Out of Africa" or "Born Free," but hasn't for many years.

But Sheldrick is a fascinating character. Her husband, David, was the founder and warden of Kenya's giant Tsavo National Park. After his death in 1977, he has lived and worked in the Nairobi National Park.

A spokeswoman for CAA said Kidman had read and liked the script but "she is currently not attached." The individual close to the project said Kidman was expected to star but no deal was in place.

Sheldrick, who's now 76, spent much of her life protecting elephants from war and poaching. After perfecting a milk formula for baby elephants and rhinos, she hand-reared more than 70 elephants and helped rescue other aniamls stolen from Botswana for brutal "training" in South Africa.

Phillip Noyce, who directed the 1992 "Patriot Games," the 1994 "Clear and Present Danger" and the 2010 "Salt," among others, is attached to direct, and two distributors are close to signing to release the film domestically and internationally, according to the insider on the project.

Mandalay Pictures is producing the film, and the budget is expected to be over $50 million. Jeff Stockwell is writing. Peter Guber, Chuck Pacheco and Cathy Schulman are producing.

The film has a complicated history. Nick Cassavetes had been attached to direct, but was let go. He later sued New Line, but dropped the lawsuit. After that, Walter Salles reportedly was in negotiations to direct the movie.

The producers expect the movie to  begin shooting in September..

Sheldrick also is featured in the 3D IMAX film "Born to Be Wild." She is the author of four books and the subject of a BBC documentary, "Elephant Diaries."

Noyce directed Kidman in the 1989 "Dead Calm."

Kidman is repped by CAA. Noyce is repped by UTA.