21-year-old newcomer Sam Heughan has signed to play the title rolein Jalal Merhi's Macedonia's Alexander The Great, the first of a trilogy that isscheduled to start filming in Greece and Egypt on Feb 7 for release in October.

Heughan was discovered afterproducer Ilya Salkind and UK producing partner Jeffrey Taylor tested hundredsof young actors for the role of the legendary conqueror.

The screenplay by Dan Skinner follows Alexander from his youth inGreece to the time he is named Regent after proving his worth as successor tohis demanding father, King Philip of Macedonia.

Salkind launched the career of Christopher Reeve when he spottedhim for the role of Superman and said he hoped to do the same for Heughan.

"When we spotted the athletic six foot two inch-framed Heughan andhis captivating sensuous masculine visage, we knew we had found him," theproducers said in a statement.

Heughan is a graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music andDrama, where he was trained and performed in classic theatre.

He is currently finishing Island At War for the UK's Granada Television and hasbeen optioned to star in all three Alexander pictures.

Under the terms of a deal with the MPAA in 1996, Salkind hascontrol of the title Macedonia's Alexander The Great that guarantees the partners exclusiveuse of Alexander The Great as part of the film title worldwide.

Salkind and Taylor will also introduce young Greek actor ArisPapadimitriou as Alexander's best friend Hephaestion and are searching for afemale actress to play Alexander's sister Kleopatra. Egyptian star Hala Sedkiwill play Queen Olympias.

Taylor and partner Kent Walwin began developing the project undertheir London-based Stagescreen Productions banner before approaching Salkind topartner with them.

Taylor andWalwin secured full financing through their own company and Egyptian and Greekfilm associates El-Adl Film and The Final Cut.