Production Weekly reports that Gong Li, heroine of at least a dozen blockbuster Chinese movies, has joined the cast of The Lecter Variation, the Hannibal Lecter prequel being scripted by author Thomas Harris.

Set in the 1940s in Europe the story follows the serial killer from his childhood in Lithuania through a period in paris in his teens, to his arrival in the U.S.

Four actors will be required to play the young Lecter at the ages of 12, 16, 20 and 25.

Peter Webber is set to direct the film that will be shot in France and Lithuania this May. The title refers to Bach's Goldberg Variations which have been a recurring musical reference in the Lecter saga to date.