According to The Hollywood Reporter, Imelda Staunton has signed on to play opposite Hilary Swank in Paramount Pictures and MTV Films' drama Freedom Writers.

The project marks one of Staunton's first high-profile roles since she earned critical raves and an Oscar nomination for last year's Vera Drake. She also will appear in Universal Pictures' upcoming children's fantasy Nanny McPhee.

Based on a true story, Freedom Writers centers on a teacher (Swank) at a gang-infested Long Beach, Calif., school who is faced with the daunting task of teaching freshman English to a racially diverse class of teenagers. Staunton will play a colleague of Swank's character.