Roth circling role for Joffe

PARIS — Uma Thurman will take the female lead in Roland Joffe’s upcoming “Vatel,” which is being produced by Gallic giant Gaumont and Alain Goldman’s Legend Enterprises. The English-language pic stars Gerard Depardieu in the title role of a master chef during the days of Louis XIV.

Based on a true story, the script was originally written by Jeanne Labrune and adapted into English by Tom Stoppard. Centering on Vatel’s preparations for a royal feast, the $36 million production promises to be lush.

Thurman’s addition marks a return to somewhat familiar ground for the CAA-repped actress whose breakthrough role came in the period piece “Dangerous Liaisons.” Tim Roth, Oscar-nominated for his own period turn in “Rob Roy,” is reportedly close to signing on as well.

“Vatel” will start lensing for a projected 15-week shoot in April with delivery slated for the end of ’99. Sales are being handled by Gaumont Intl.

The film highlights Gaumont’s continuing drive to make a name for itself in English. Along with “Vatel” and this year’s upcoming Luc Besson English-lingo “Joan of Arc,” the French company has “Me, Myself, I,” starring Oscar-nominated Rachel Griffiths, from Aussie director Pip Karmel in post-production.

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