Branagh boards bard

Thesp to direct Kline, Howard in 'As You Like It'

Kenneth Branagh will direct Kevin Kline and Bryce Dallas Howard in a film adaptation of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” to be set in the late 1800s.

HBO Films is financing the pic, which will be released theatrically before hitting the pay web.

Branagh may play the small role of Touchstone, the comic relief in the film. Jimmy Yuill, David Oyelowo, Adrian Lester and Brian Blessed are set for supporting roles.

Branagh produces the pic with Judy Hofflund and Simon Moseley. Shooting starts April 21 in England.

HBO has an output deal for its theatricals with Fine Line, but it isn’t clear yet who will distribute theatrically.

Effort marks the fifth Shakespeare adaptation Branagh has done for the screen, including his directing debut “Twelfth Night.” He also directed “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” “Hamlet” and “Henry V.”

Howard will play Rosalind, a part she played at the Public Theater in New York. She’ll next be seen in “Manderlay,” Lars Von Trier’s follow-up to “Dogville.” Kline co-stars with Steve Martin in upcoming pic “The Pink Panther.”

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