'Sideways' actress joins Swank, Gere in biopic

Virginia Madsen has signed on to co-star in the Amelia Earhart biopic “Amelia” for Avalon Pictures and Fox Searchlight.

Hilary Swank and Richard Gere have already been cast in the Mira Nair-helmed project, which chronicles the rocky relationship between the famed aviator (Swank) and publisher-promoter George Putnam (Gere), whom Earhart eventually married. Madsen will play Dorothy Binney, Putnam’s first wife.

Ron Bass penned the screenplay.

Shooting starts later this month in Canada and South Africa. Kevin Hyman, Ted Waitt and Lydia Dean Pilcher are producing. Swank and Bass exec produce.

“Amelia” marks Madsen’s first project with Fox Searchlight since her “Sideways” turn.

Madsen’s upcoming projects include the IFC comedy “Diminished Capacity” opposite Matthew Broderick and Gold Circle Films and Lionsgate’s supernatural thriller “The Haunting in Connecticut.”

She and her mother, Elaine Madsen, collaborated on the forthcoming documentary “I Know a Woman Like That,” about the lives of women ages 65-94. Last month, Madsen launched the production shingle Title IX Prods.

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