Newlywed Nicole Kidman is set to star as MRS COULTER in THE GOLDEN COMPASS, the film version of the first of Philip Pullman's bestselling HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy. About A Boy movie-maker Chris Weitz will direct the $150 million (GBP83 million) production at London's Shepperton Studios this autumn (06). The film is a fantasy about the adventures of a precocious young girl called LYRA BELACQUA, who travels to a parallel universe to save her friends who are kidnapped by dark forces. Kidman will play the sinister scholar and socialite with a mysterious past who has a secret link to Lyra. Paul Bettany is in final negotiations to join the film as LORD ASRIEL. Bettany and Kidman are reportedly good friends, having worked together on the Lars Von Trier film DOGVILLE, and his involvement is said to have enticed Kidman to come on board the picture. Award-winning British television actress CLAIRE HIGGINS is also expected to join the cast, along with first-time child actress DAKOTA BLUE RICHARDS, who is taking on the role of Lyra.