Writer Andrew Davies wants a mega Hollywood star to take one of the lead roles in his upcoming BBC2 adaptation of Tolstoy’s 1869 classic novel War and Peace: Scarlett Johansson.
The veteran writer, once dubbed TV’s Mr Sex for his racy adaptations of period classics Pride & Prejudice and Fanny Hill, says the Lost in Translation and Captain America: The Winter Soldier star would be ideal for the new six-part drama he is putting the finishing touches to, we can reveal.
However when he told RadioTimes.com about his ambitions, he did so with a laugh - because it is clearly a big ask.
“You have to aim high,” he added.
If Johansson is picked for the role of the flighty aristocrat Natasha Rostova she would be following in the footsteps of Audrey Hepburn who played the part in the 1956 movie alongside Henry Fonda.
Despite roles as a child, she hit mainstream stardom aged just 18 when she appeared opposite Bill Murray in Sophia Coppola's Lost in Translation and has since gone on to star in a string of high-profile movies.
Other starring roles came in the films Vicky Cristina Barcelona, The Other Boleyn Girl, Match Point and the current release Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
War and Peace is one of the most widely admired – and at around 1,300 pages one of the longest – works of world literature.
Based in war-torn 19th century Russia it has a wide array of characters but Davies is expected to eschew some of its flabbier philosophical passages and focus on the story’s human relationships within the four main families. This means that the three central characters will be Natasha, the principal hero Pierre Bezukhov and the haughty Andrei.
Davies has said that he hopes two well-known names will play the two male leads, adding that the interaction between the story's principal families would be "very familiar" to fans of BBC1 soap EastEnders, but with "not so much yelling and nobody on the dole".
Previously the BBC adapted the story in 1972 and 1973 starring a youthful Anthony Hopkins in the lead role of Pierre.