Gary Oldman joins 'Book of Eli'

Denzel Washington stars in action thriller

Gary Oldman is in negotiations to star opposite Denzel Washington in "The Book of Eli," an action thriller from Warner Bros. and Alcon Entertainment. Albert and Allen Hughes are directing.

The script, by Gary Whitta and a rewrite by Anthony Peckham, centers on a lone hero named Eli (Washington) who must fight his way across the wasteland of a near-future America to protect a sacred book that might hold the key to saving the future of humanity.

Oldman will play Carnegie, the despot of a small makeshift town deficient of standard necessities, services, and most noticeably, laws. Carnegie is determined to take possession of the book Eli is guarding.

Alcon is financing and co-producing with Silver Pictures. Warners will distribute domestically while Summit Entertainment will handle international sales.

Silver Pictures' Joel Silver, Susan Downey are producing along with Washington and Alcon's Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson.

Filming is due to start February in New Mexico with an eye toward a Jan. 15, 2010, release date.

The role returns Oldman to his more villainous side, seen in such films as "Dracula," "The Professional" and even "Hannibal." The actor has been spending recent years portraying good men fighting the good fight in characters such as Sirius Black in the "Harry Potter" movies and "James Gordon" in the Christopher Nolan's "Batman" movies.

Oldman is repped by Paradigm and Douglas Management Group.