According to the Hollywood Reporter, Jessica Biel and Rufus Sewell are joining Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti in The Illusionist, writer-director Neil Burger's $17 million turn-of-the-century drama that begins principal photography April 4 in Prague.
Burger's adaptation of the Steven Millhauser short story "Eisenheim the Illusionist" is set in 1900 Vienna. A streetwise magician (Norton) uses his dark arts to win Princess Sophie (Biel) away from Crown Prince Leopold (Sewell). Magician/historian Ricky Jay is consulting on the film.
Best known for her role as a wholesome teen on television's "7th Heaven," Biel has been changing her image with such films as Rules of Attraction, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Blade: Trinity. She also stars in Cameron Crowe's next film, Elizabethtown.
Biel landed the coveted female lead in The Illusionist, which she actively chased, after an arduous casting process including several screen tests.
"She has been through the wringer,"
producer Catherine Schulman said. The filmmakers were seeking an actress who could bring a contemporary feel to a period yarn, and
"she fit the bill,"
producer Michael London said
British actor Sewell's credits include A Knight's Tale, Hamlet and Cold Comfort Farm,/b>. His upcoming features are Tristan & Isolde and Legend of Zorro.