Del Toro, Binoche Casting Talks

Benicio Del Toro as a horny Renaissance painter who happens to be a monk and Juliette Binoche as the nun he falls in love with? Yeah, we'll pay money to see that.

The untitled film project about art and forbidden love, based on real-life 15th-century painter Fra Lippi, is attracting a cast with an amazing pedigree.

Besides Del Toro and Binoche (Oscar nominees this year for Traffic and Chocolat, respectively), Geoffrey Rush (nominated this year for Quills) and Chloë Sevigny (nominated last year for Boys Don't Cry) are in talks to join the cast. Brazilian Walter Salles — whose 1998 film, Central Station, picked up a Best Foreign Film Oscar nomination — will direct, and Best Director winners Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) and Sydney Pollack (Out of Africa) will produce.

The project is based on the Katie Campbell novel The Assumption of the Virgin, about the romance between Fra Lippi (Del Toro) and the nun who posed for him (Binoche). It takes place during the Italian Renaissance, in 15th-century Florence.

"Lippi is a hedonistic, extraordinarily physical guy who, even though he's a monk, is a notorious womanizer who fell in love with a deeply religious nun," Pollack tells Variety.

DreamWorks recently came aboard as a domestic distributor, the trade paper reports. Pollack said shooting will begin in Florence in the fall, unless industry strikes prevent it.

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