Hugh Jackman has signed on to star in Madeleine Stowe's directorial debut because he's keen to saddle up and play an all-American cowboy.

The movie star studied horseback riding for his roles in Kate & Leopold and Australia but now he's planning to get serious for The Last of the Mohicans star's new project Unbound Captives.

Jackman will play a frontiersman who comes to the aid of a woman kidnapped by the Comanche Indians, who kill her husband. Rachel Weisz is in talks for the female lead in the film, which Stowe has also co-written with her husband Brian Benben.

Jackman tells Cowboys & Indians magazine that his 13-year-old son can't wait for filming to start: "He knows all about this project and keeps asking me, 'When are we going to go and live with the American Indians?' He knows all the nuances - who the tribes are and where they lived. It's fascinating to me."

And the actor admits he has a very personal reason to get back on a horse, adding, "When you come to riding as an adult as I did... I really learned how to work with a horse in my 30s and was much more cautious than if I'd ridden as a boy or young man.

"But when you ride cutting horses every day for months, like I did in Australia, even falling off a few of them, I discovered that I genuinely loved being on a horse and now have to find a reason to get back out to the West and ride again."