Brad Pitt is in negotiations to play the famed archaeologist Richard Leakey in Angelina Jolie's drama Africa. It would be the third collaboration between the husband-and-wife pair after Mr & Mrs Smith and the yet-to-be-released By The Sea.

Brad PittBrad Pitt could play Richard Leakey in Angelina Jolie's Africa

Africa, written by the Oscar winner Eric Roth (Forrest Gump) is a biopic of Leakey, who became a staunch defender of elephants against poachers in Kenya in the late 1980s.  

"I've felt a deep connection to Africa and its culture for much of my life, and was taken with Eric's beautiful script about a man drawn into the violent conflict with elephant poachers who emerged with a deeper understanding of man's footprint and a profound sense of responsibility for the world around him," Jolie said in a statement when announcing the project last September.

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Should Pitt join the project, Africa would by default be regarded as an early frontrunner for the major cinematic awards, perhaps in 2016. Jolie is re-teaming with her Unbroken cinematographer Roger Deakins, who has also worked on The Shawshank Redemption, A Beautiful Mind, No Country for Old Men and Skyfall, while David Ellison and Dana Golberg will act as producers. Production could begin as soon as this summer.

According to sources, the movie currently has no deal with a major studio, though Skydance has a general deal with Paramount and Africa is expected to wind up there.

Pitt, who won an Oscar for producing 12 Years a Slave, previously worked with Skydance on World War Z. His schedule looks pretty clear for the next year, apart from a short film with Martin Scorsese promoting the opening of Melco-Crown's movie themed resort and casino in Macau. Quite bizarrely, it is written by Terrence Winter and co-stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro.

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