New Line Cinema has completed casting for its upcoming feature film adaptation of the best-selling Cornelia Funke novel Inkheart with the addition of Academy Award nominee Helen Mirren (The Queen, "Elizabeth I"), and commenced principal photography on November 8th, it was announced by New Line Production President Toby Emmerich.
Principal photography on Inkheart will begin on location in Liguria, Italy before moving to Shepperton Studios in England. The film is being directed by BAFTA nominee Iain Softley (The Skeleton Key, "Backbeat") and is scheduled for a 2008 release.
Joining Mirren in the Inkheart cast is an acclaimed ensemble of actors that includes Brendan Fraser (Crash, The Mummy, New Line's upcoming Journey 3D), Paul Bettany (The Da Vinci Code, A Beautiful Mind), Jim Broadbent (Moulin Rouge, The Chronicles of Narnia), Rafi Gavron (Breaking and Entering), Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings, King Kong), and 12-year-old British actress Eliza Bennett (Nanny McPhee) as the young protagonist Meggie Folchart. Mirren will play Elinor Loredan, Meggie's great aunt in the film.
Based on the international bestselling novel by Cornelia Funke, Inkheart centers on Meggie, a young girl whose father (Brendan Fraser) has a secret ability to bring characters from books to life when he reads them aloud. But when a power-hungry villain from a rare children's fable kidnaps Meggie's father to bring others out of the boundaries of fiction, she and a disparate group of friends - both real and magic - embark on an adventure to save him and set things right.
"Inkheart is a magical reality, and Cornelia has provided us with such rich material for the film that bringing it to life is the easy part," says Softley. "Her illustrations and descriptions in the book have provided us with a way to really feel this new world, and that's what we are creating, a new world brought forward from a book within a book. Everyone can't wait to get out to Italy and start principal photography and seeing it all come to life - it's a very exciting journey we're about to embark on."
Inkheart, the first book of a planned trilogy which includes Inkspell (released in 2005) and the upcoming Inkdawn, debuted at number nine on the New York Times bestseller list and went on to be translated into 20 languages. Its author, Funke, has written more than 40 books in 15 years including the international bestseller The Thief Lord. She was named one of Time magazine's "Most Influential People of the Year" in 2005.