X-Men star Hugh Jackman has withdrawn from negotiations to star in Cleo, Steven Soderbergh's upcoming rock 'n' roll musical about Cleopatra.

It was revealed in October that Traffic director Soderbergh planned to cast Catherine Zeta Jones as the Egyptian queen with Jackman as her lover, Roman general Marc Anthony.

But according to Variety, the Australia star has removed himself from negotiations for the planned 3D live-action musical.

It is believed Jackman's exit is due to scheduling conflicts, something Soderbergh was clearly anticipated earlier this year.

"I want him to be [involved], we're trying to work it out," he told inthenews.co.uk at the UK premiere of Che last year.

"I guess [X-Men Origins:] Wolverine is opening in 2010 so he'll have the publicity tour for that, but I definitely want him."

Jackman is due to host the Academy Awards in February and returns as Wolverine in May for Gavin Hood's story of the troubled mutant's upbringing.

No replacement has yet been mooted for Jackman but British actor Ray Winstone is reportedly in talks to play Julius Caesar.

Speaking at the Times BFI 52nd London Film Festival, Soderbergh said he wanted Cleo to be similar to "an Elvis musical".

"I've always wanted to do a musical, I felt like a female protagonist was probably a good idea, because the majority of the audiences for musicals are female," he explained.

"I started thinking about Catherine because I knew she could sing and dance and the list [of possible subjects for the film] got pretty short at that point.

"I know Cleopatra stole that haircut from Louise Brooks, but Catherine looks great in it," he joked.

02/01/2009 10:11:36