Woody Allen Takes A Punch

Casts newcomer in London-based project

Woody Allen's one-man finishing school for talented up-and-coming actresses has a new recruit, with British newcomer Lucy Punch joining his new, and so-far untitled, London project.

Punch replaces Nicole Kidman, who was forced to drop out last month due to clashes with John Cameron Mitchell's Rabbit Hole. She joins a high-profile cast that includes Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Brolin, Naomi Watts and Freida Pinto.

Although Allen has gone all secret-squirrel and divulged virtually nothing about the project, Variety suggests that Punch is (and therefore Kidman originally was) slated to play a high-class escort (yes, Kidman). This definitely qualifies as news that doesn't sound quite right... watch this space for more.

As career boasts go, it's a corker for Punch, who has hitherto concentrated on stage work this side of the pond but is known Stateside for her turn in Emmy-nominated CBS sitcom The Class. The 31 year-old has also had blink-and-you'll-miss-'em roles in Hot Fuz**z, Grindhouse and Being Julia**.

Woody Allen et al arrive in London soon to begin shooting later this summer.