Natalie Portman has dropped out of John Maybury's new adaptation of Wuthering Heights.

Robert Bernstein and Douglas Rae's UK-based Ecosse Films is producing. HanWay Films is handling sales. Bernstein confirmed to on Thursday that Portman had pulled out of the project on Wednesday.

The move comes as a surprise as she had been the one to approach the film-makers. A search is now underway for a new Cathy with the project still likely for an autumn UK shoot.

Meanwhile, Michael Fassbender, the already buzzed-about star of CannesUn Certain Regardtitle Hunger, is said to be in talks to play Heathcliff. Bernstein noted that no actor was officially signed on for the role yet.

The new script is written by Olivia Hetreed, who also adapted The Girl With A Pearl Earring. Emily Bronte's 1847 novel is about Heathcliff and Cathy, two ill-fated lovers in the Yorkshire moors.