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Roman holiday for Rai

Epic to start shooting August 5

LONDON — Aishwarya Rai has joined the cast of “The Last Legion,” which Doug Lefler will direct for producer Dino De Laurentiis.

Already cast in sword-and-sandal epic, which starts shooting Aug. 5 in Tunisia, are Colin Firth, Ben Kingsley and Thomas Sangster.

Based on Valerio Massimo Manfredi’s bestseller, the film is set in 470 A.D. as the Roman empire crumbles. It’s the story of Rome’s last emperor, the 12-year-old Romulus Augustus, who escapes the rebels over-running the city and embarks on a perilous trek to Britain with a small band of companions to track down his last legion.

Peter Mullan, John Hannah and James Cosmo play supporting roles.

The independently financed pic is produced by Martha and Raffaella De Laurentiis, in partnership with Tarak Ben Ammar’s Quinta Communications and British co-producers Chris Curling and Phil Robertson of Zephyr Films.

North American rights have been pre-sold to the Weinstein Co. as part of a three-pic deal including “Decameron” and “Young Hannibal.”

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