This is the second recent project that the Oscar winner (No Country for Old Men) has left. The Spanish actor, 39, was originally cast in Francis Ford Coppola's drama Tetro – but was replaced by actress Carmen Maura after the director decided the role would be better filled by a female.
Subsequent reports suggested that Bardem was simply unavailable.
Nine, to be directed by Chicago's Rob Marshall, is set to star La Vie En Rose Oscar winner Marion Cotillard, screen legend Sophia Loren and Bardem's girlfriend Penelope Cruz. It is loosely based on Italian director Federico Fellini's acclaimed autobiographical 1963 movie 8 ½ – about a sexually active movie director. Antonio Banderas starred in a 2003 Broadway revival.
In related Nine casting news, Nicole Kidman and Judi Dench are reportedly in negotiations to join the film, says Variety.