Tinseltown hunk Matthew Mcconaughey is set to play explorer DIRK PITT in a big-screen adaptation of 1992 novel SAHARA.

The HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS star will portray the adventurer searching the desert for a toxin that is killing marine life.

It is hoped that Sahara - directed by BRECK EISNER - will be the first in a franchise of the 13 Pitt books written by author Clive Cussler, all starring McConaughey.