Director Sam Mendes is planning a controversial movie based on the failed policies of the White House during the first Gulf War - and a string of A-list actors are already lining up for a part in the project.

The 38-year-old movie-maker - who is married to British actress KATE WINSLET - has been approached by stars including LEONARDO DiCAPRIO, JAKE GYLLENHAAL and Tobey Maguire, all of whom are desperate to sign up to the big screen adaptation of ANTHONY SWOFFORD's acclaimed book JARHEADS.

Mendes says, "It's not necessarily going to be all stars and I think you may find a new generation of actors coming through."

And the director believes the movie will provide an interesting background to the current crisis in the Middle East.

He adds, "The film's incredibly relevant because of the current Iraq war.

"The names Dick Cheney, COLIN POWELL, Saddam Hussein and George Bush are studded through this book and you can't be unaware that some thing's haven't changed.

"You become aware that it's both specific and universal and it's not just about the first Gulf War, but wars that have gone before."

Staff at UNIVERSAL PICTURES are currently scouting desert locations around America and Mexico for the film which is tentatively titled Jarheads.

30/04/2004 13:38