Cassel will host Cannes

Thesp will open the fest May 17

French actor Vincent Cassel will be master of ceremonies at the 59th Cannes Film Festival, organizers said Wednesday.

Thesp, whose wife, Monica Bellucci, was mistress of ceremonies a couple of years ago, takes the torch from Cecile de France.

Cassel will open the fest May 17, ushering jury president Wong Kar Wai and the rest of members onto the stage of the Palais, as well as presiding over the closing ceremony May 28.

Cassel, whose 30-plus film credits include “Brotherhood of the Wolf” and “Red My Lips,” is no stranger to the fest. He starred in Mathieu Kassovitz’s “Hate,” which won director kudos at Cannes in 1995.

In 2002, the actor found himself at the center of a Croisette brouhaha over helmer Gaspard Noe’s violent “Irreversible,” which starred Cassel and Bellucci; it was criticized for a nine-minute rape scene.

Cassel has been making a push into Hollywood of late, most recently with his role as the Machiavellian Francois Toulour in “Ocean’s Twelve.” Other English-lingo pics include Luc Besson’s “Joan of Arc” and “Elizabeth.” The actor is set to star in producer Thomas Langmann’s on-again, off-again film about Jacques Mesrine, “Public Enemy No. 1.”

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