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Keira Knightley steps up for Collateral Beauty

British actress Keira Knightley is in talks to replace Rooney Mara as the female lead in forthcoming comedy Collateral Beauty.

It's the latest shake-up for the movie, about a top New York advertising executive whose employees hatch an unconventional plan to lift him out of a deep depression.

Rooney and Hugh Jackman had initially been tapped as the leading stars, but the Australian actor bowed out last summer (15) due to scheduling conflicts with the X-Men: Apocalypse film. Johnny Depp was then considered for the job, before Will Smith entered the frame in August (15).

If Keira signs on, she will join a cast which also includes Helen Mirren, Edward Norton, Naomie Harris, and Michael Pena.

The Warner Bros. project, which also underwent a directorial change in October (15), when David Frankel replaced Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, is set for release in December (16).

It's the second film new mum Keira has been linked to since giving birth to her first child, daughter Edie, last spring (15).

She is also in negotiations to play French novelist Colette in a new biopic, directed by Still Alice's Wash Westmoreland.

Colette, real name Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948 and her best known work is the novella Gigi, which was the basis for the film and stage play of the same name. She was also an actress.

Filming on that project is scheduled to begin in Budapest, Hungary in May (16).

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