When we last brought word on Roman Polanski's Pompeii, the controversial director was looking to snag some top-notch (read: A-list) talent to star in what ultimately will become one of the most expensive European film projects ever (the budget is said to currently be hanging around the $130 million mark). The speculation as to who would be cast in the lead role began, with rumors suggesting that Polanski wanted "a top Italian thesp" to play our hero's beautiful love interest. Well, according to Coming Soon (who wouldn't report on a rumor unless they were pretty sure it was true), Polanski's wish is about to come true as Orlando Bloom and Scarlett Johansson (hey, when did she become an Italian thesp?) are in talks to star in the pic, which will revolve around events that took place just prior to the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79.

If this rumor (and, right now, it's only a rumor) turns out to be true, Bloom will play Marcus Attilus Primus; a Roman engineer who is sent to Pompeii to help repair "the greatest aqueduct in the Roman Empire." However, while there, he must deal with all kinds of corrupt government types and a tiny volcanic eruption that, well, wipes out the entire city. Pic is based on Robert Harris' best-selling novel of the same name, and will reportedly begin filming in August. This will most certainly be Polanski's most ambitious film to date; heck, the amount of CGI effects alone opens up a whole new avenue for the director. And while Johansson has a ton of projects lined up, she'll be in Spain (where most of the Pompeii production is said to be taking place) shooting Woody Allen's new film, so I assume she'll be available to stop by Polanski's set to act all, "Oh my God, what's that red stuff coming at me!?" Also, both Bloom and Johansson are no strangers when it comes to historical epics; the former has Troy and Kingdom of Heaven under his belt, while the latter has Girl with a Pearl Earring, as well as upcoming pics like The Other Boleyn Girl and Napoleon and Betsy. Interesting casting choices; not exactly my first choice, but you have to admit -- these two will look real good together on screen. (I smell a potential off-screen romance in the works .... )