Brit thesp Freeman to play Rembrandt

LONDON — Eva Birthistle, Nathalie Press, Emily Holmes and Jodhi May have joined the cast of Peter Greenaway’s Rembrandt biopic “Nightwatching,” which sets out to shed new light on the painter’s life through a fresh reading of his 1642 painting “Night Watch.”

As previously announced, Martin Freeman, star of the BBC’s hit TV show “The Office,” will topline as the Dutch master.

Birthistle (“Breakfast on Pluto”) will play Rembrandt’s wife with May (“On a Clear Day”) and Holmes (“Snakes on a Plane”) playing the painter’s mistresses. Press (“Red Road”) also features in the cast, which was unveiled at Wednesday’s launch in a room full of Rembrandt masterpieces at London’s National Gallery.

“The ideas go beyond manufacturing a film” said Greenaway, who wants to transform the painting into a “living phenomena” through a variety of media.

As well as the film, a stage production is skedded to bow in Rotterdam in February, a documentary is planned and related Rembrandt exhibitions are also in the pipeline.

Greenaway’s longtime collaborator Kees Kasander produces the Polish-Dutch-Welsh-English-Canadian co-production with Aria Films’ Carlo Dusi co-producing. The U.K. Film Council’s New Cinema Fund has awarded the pic $300,000 ($567,000.)

The pic will shoot in Poland and Wales and is aiming for a May bow, possibly at the Cannes Film Festival.

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