Maybury's 'Wuthering' has its Heathcliff

Michael Fassbender secured for the role

CANNES -- At least one half of the casting crisis facing John Maybury's "Wuthering Heights" has been solved in the wake of Natalie Portman's sudden decision to pull out of the headline role of Cathy.

Ecosse Films, the production house run by Robert Bernstein and Douglas Rae, which is producing the picture, said they have secured Michael Fassbender for the role of Heathcliff.

Fassbender stars in Steve McQueen's "Hunger," which heralded the beginning of Cannes sidebar Un Certain Regard on Thursday.

Bernstein described the Heathcliff role as "one of the most powerful and iconic romantic roles" in cinema.

Finance and sales company HanWay is repping the title for sales here.

Portman's exit left the financiers, sellers and producers rattled just days ahead of the fest.

HanWay Films is hoping to have a replacement for Portman "within days" in the role of Cathy.

Written by Olivia Hetreed, who also undertook the adaptation of "Girl With a Pearl Earring," the new adaptation plans to steer away from "the stuffy costume drama" format.

Emily Bronte's novel centers on the intense love story between the rich Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling brought from the slums of Liverpool.