Holliday Grainger Has Tulip Fever

She's in talks to star in the historical drama

Fresh from shooting up rural 1930s Texas in A&E's two-part TV movie Bonnie And Clyde: Dead And Alive, Holliday Grainger may next be heading for 17th century Amsterdam. The Manchester actress is in negotiations to play the protagonist Sophia Sandvoort in Justin Chadwick's adaptation of the bestselling Tulip Fever.

Christoph Waltz has already signed up for the film, which looks to be along the opulent period drama lines of The Girl With A Pearl Earring and Perfume. He'll play Cornelis Sandvoort, a man grown rich from the tulip trade, who scores a beautiful young wife (Sophia) on the back of his success. When he arranges to have their portrait painted by the dashing Jan van Loos, however, he finds his frustrated bride's attentions straying. Sophia and Jan start secretly speculating in the tulip market themselves, planning their escape.

Deborah Moggach's novel is a fictionalised portrait of an extraordinary historical moment. The wild flower from the Asian Steppes took Europe by storm when it was imported in the 1600s. An auction for 100 tulip bulbs in Holland in 1637 ended at 90,000 guilders: about £6m in today's money. So there's a fortune to be made for Sophia and Jan if they can only pull off their scheme...

The book, first published in 2000, has been a hot property ever since, attracting directors like Tom Hooper and John Madden, and once on the cards for Jude Law and Keira Knightley. It won't be too much of a stretch for Grainger if she signs on, since she's previously costumed-up for Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, Bel Ami, The Borgias, Merlin and Anna Karenina.

The Weinstein Company has set Tulip Fever in motion, and pre-production starts in April.