Thesp to star alongside Depp, Binoche

NEW YORK — “Ladies Man” star Alfred Molina has closed a deal to co-star with Johnny Depp and Juliet Binoche in “Chocolat,” the Miramax romantic comedy directed by Lasse Hallstrom.

Molina will play the Comte de Reynaud, an uptight nobleman and leader of a small town whose control over the populace is jeopardized by their patronage of a chocolate shop opened by a woman (Binoche). Pic, to be shot in France and England, is based on Robert Nelson Jacob’s adaptation of the Joanne Harris novel. David Brown, Kit Golden and Leslie Halloran are producing. The film’s casting up quickly, with Judi Dench also a possible participant.

For Molina, pic marks a hiatus effort from his sitcom “Ladies Man,” which airs on CBS. He’ll next be seen onscreen in Miramax’s “Texas Rangers,” and his recent credits include “Magnolia” and “Boogie Nights.” He’s repped by William Morris and Hyler Management.

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