Finally, a movie where Baltimore gets to play Baltimore - and starring Nicole Kidman, no less.

The Visiting - formerly known as Invasion - begins filming here Monday. But a news conference featuring its stars and director was held yesterday in Washington, where other parts of the movie will be filmed - perhaps it was just too much to ask the national press to schlep all the way to the other end of the parkway.

Still, after Baltimore's recent history of standing in for other cities (in XXX: State of the Union, it played Washington; in Major League II, it subbed for Cleveland), it was worth the trip to hear director Oliver Hirschbiegel confirm that much of The Visiting will be based here as well.

"The whole ending is going to be [set] in Baltimore," he told a gathering of some 50 national and international media crammed onto the rooftop of D.C.'s swank Hay-Adams hotel.

The film, the fourth theatrical adaptation of Jack Finney's 1955 novel Invasion of the Body Snatchers, will star Kidman as a Washington psychiatrist studying a mysterious plague that alters human behavior. After discovering the plague's extraterrestrial origins, she must fight to save her son, who is back in Baltimore and has some connection to the invasion.

Kidman, dressed in black pants and a short-sleeve black pullover, said she was attracted to the project by the prospect of playing a mother out to save her son.

"The love that a mother has for a child, that's what I actually responded to in this," Kidman said.

Baltimore's share of The Visiting shoot is expected to last 45 days, said Hannah Byron, director of the Division of Film, Television and Video for Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts.

Besides Kidman, the movie will also star Daniel Craig (The Jacket) and Jeremy Northam (The Singing Detective). All three were in Washington yesterday, along with director Hirschbiegel (Downfall), producer Joel Silver and screenwriter David Kajganich.

Interestingly, none of the three stars of the film said they believed in extraterrestrial life - a topic that seemed to be on many journalists' minds yesterday, as three of them asked basically the same question. "I wouldn't know what to say to an extraterrestrial," Northam quipped.

Silver, best known for such action- and special effects-heavy films as The Matrix and Gothika, said this film would be different from what audiences normally expect when they see his name on the credits.

"There's action in this movie, there's tension in this movie, but it's not really that kind of green-screen activity," he said, referring to the background actors perform in front of when special effects are to be added later. The actors, he promised, "are not going to be hanging from wires and spending hours hanging in front of the green screen."

Kidman, who lived near Washington for a few years when she was a young girl, said this is her first time back to the area since she was 3. The shooting will mark her first visit to Baltimore, and she said friends urged her to be sure to eat some crabs while in the area.

Unfortunately, the actress said, her schedule will keep her too busy to enjoy much more of what the city has to offer.

"But," she promised, "I'll be out and about."