McAvoy and Blunt to voice "Gnomeo"

Actor James McAvoy attends the 12th annual GQ magazine Men of the Year party in Los Angeles, December 5, 2007. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - James McAvoy and Emily Blunt might soon discover that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence -- if you’re a garden gnome in love.

The pair are in negotiations to play the title roles of “Gnomeo and Juliet,” a loose and edgy CGI-animated adaptation of Shakespeare’s play. McAvoy (“Atonement”) and Blunt (“The Devil Wears Prada”) would play lovers from rival gardens.

The film, from Miramax and Elton John’s Rocket Pictures, will feature several classic tunes by John but not Kate Winslet; two years ago the actress was attached to the project as the voice of Juliet but dropped out because of scheduling conflicts. At the time, Tim Rice was approached to write original songs with his “Lion King” partner John, but the soundtrack now will be filled with the performer’s well-known hits and possibly a few new tracks.

Kelly Asbury (“Shrek 2”) will direct from an original script by Rob Sprackling and John R. Smith. Kevin Cecil, Andy Riley and Mark Burton have worked on later versions of the screenplay. The production is expected to be completed by 2010.

McAvoy, whose screen credits include “Becoming Jane” and “The Last King of Scotland,” had his first big-budget hit with this summer’s “Wanted,” opposite Angelina Jolie. After a string of upcoming independent features, Blunt will appear in Universal Pictures’ “The Wolfman,” with Anthony Hopkins and Benicio Del Toro, in summer 2009..

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter