Date: 28th May 2003

Baz sets record straight

Baz Luhrmann has set the record straight about rumours throughout the film industry concerning his next film Alexander the Great.
Yes, it is starring Nicole Kidman and Leonardo diCaprio and is backed by Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. Yes, like other films, the production has been moved from Morocco because of potential terrorist threats. And yes, it may be filmed in Australia.

"From the first decision of looking to do Alexander the Great we have wanted to shoot it in Australia," Luhrmann said in Sydney yesterday.

"We don't see Australia as a place on a list of locations, it's our home. We want to work and have worked here from our point of view there's no question it's what we want."

There has been much speculation surrounding the Australian director's version of the epic tale, which is based on the Valerio Manfredi novels.

Producer Dino de Laurentiis (Conan The Destroyer, War And Peace) last week told Daily Variety he was pulling production out of Morocco after the recent suicide bombing in Casablanca.

Luhrmann, who said production of the film had initially been postponed because of DiCaprio's unavailability, agreed with the safety risk of shooting in Morocco despite the enormous incentives being offered to film his epic in the country, but said a final decision was yet to be made.

"The reality is it's a very economical film. So there's a reason why Jordan, Morocco and other countries are going for it," he said.

"The King of Jordan said: 'Here's 6000 soldiers for six months for free', and that offer was matched by Morocco. We (Australia) don't have 6000 soldiers who don't have a day job."

Luhrmann, who made Strictly Ballroom and Moulin Rouge here, said when De Laurentiis arrived in Sydney next month "we'll look at how we can make it in Australia".

The director has already scouted Australian locations such as Broken Hill (where the original Mad Max was filmed) and towns in South Australia and the Northern Territory as possible film locations when production starts shooting in mid-2004.

He said pre-production, which begins in October, the start of digital photography in November, and post-production -- possibly around the end of next year -- would happen in Australia.

As for the reported race against American director Oliver Stone to get his version of Alexander to the box office first, Luhrmann said: "The bottom line is I have my Alexander, I have two studios and I have $US100 million.

It's not a race. We will do it in our way, in our time frame and our take on what we're going to make creative freedom is our No 1 thing."

The Australian

Source: Press Release