Tolstoy biopic costars McAvoy, Giamatti

Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren are toplining Michael Hoffman’s Leo Tolstoy biopic “The Last Station,” which starts shooting April 7 in Germany. They replace previously announced thesps Anthony Hopkins and Meryl Streep in the roles of Tolstoy and his wife, Sofia.

Other key cast include James McAvoy and Paul Giamatti.

Warner Bros. has picked up German domestic rights to the e13 million ($20 million) project.

The film, based on Jay Parini’s 1990 novel, explores the turbulent final year in the life of the Russian writer and philosopher and his troubled marriage.

Giamatti plays Tolstoy’s trusted follower Chertkov, a supporter of the writer’s nonviolent socialist Christian movement who becomes Sofia’s cunning adversary, while McAvoy plays a naive private secretary sent by Chertkov to work for Tolstoy. British actress Anne-Marie Duff, who is married to McAvoy, stars as Tolstoy’s daughter Sasha.

Produced by Jens Meurer of Berlin-based Egoli Tossel Film and Chris Curling of the U.K.’s Zephyr Films, pic secured much of its financing from German film subsidy orgs, including Mitteldeutsche Medienfoerderung, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, the German Federal Film Board and the Federal Film Fund, with support from the state of Saxony-Anhalt.

“The Last Station” will shoot in Saxony-Anhalt as well as the German states of Brandenburg and Thuringia, the city of Leipzig and at historical locations in Russia.

Warners will release the pic in Germany early next year.

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