Stellan Skarsgard to star in Holocaust drama

Stellan Skarsgard is attached to star in Holocaust drama 'The Painted Bird'

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Stellan Skarsgard

Stellan Skarsgard

Stellan Skarsgard has confirmed he'll star in 'The Painted Bird'.

The 65-year-old actor will play a German soldier in the Holocaust drama, which is a screen adaptation of Polish writer Jerzy Kosinski's controversial 1965 novel, while Harvey Keitel is also in talks to appear in the film.

Vaclav Marhoul will direct the movie, which tells the tale of a Jewish boy who tries to hide his faith to avoid detection from Nazis as he wanders through Eastern Europe during World War II.

The tale sparked criticism when the novel was published because of its portrayal of wartime horrors carried out by Polish peasants.

But Stellan told The Hollywood Reporter he thought 'The Painted Bird' was "a lovely book and a lovely screenplay."

He added: "You are probably familiar with the story -- it follows a young boy and his encounters with a lot of different people, and I am one of them."

Marhoul bought the screen rights to 'The Painted Bird' in 2010 and has described the story as "a deeply dramatic story examining the immediate relationship between terror and cruelty on one side and innocence and love on the other."

The novel "captivated" the filmmaker, who had spent years adapting the material for the screen.

Marhoul added: "There were moments when I became overwhelmed by the feeling that I can't do this, that I bit off more than I can chew."

It is understood that Marhoul has secured letters of intent to star in the $5 million project from both Skarsgard and Keitel, with Udo Kier attached to play "the miller".

Meanwhile, nine-year-old Czech actor Petr Kotlar, will play the young Jewish boy. The cast also includes Polish, Ukrainian, Russia and Czech actors.

Principal photography for the black-and-white film, which is a co-production between Marhoul's Prague-based company Silver Screen, Czech public television and Czech, Slovak and Ukrainian producers - is expected to start after two preliminary shooting days in Prague and on location in Ukraine and will be shot over 105 days.

A world premiere is planned for May 2019, with the Czech cinematic release planned for September 2019.

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