Actress takes on 'Pride & Prejudice' adaptation

Given Natalie Portman’s elegant demeanor, a turn in a period Jane Austen adaptation was inevitable.

Portman will star in and produce “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” a film that is based on the bestselling book written by Seth Grahame-Smith and Austen. Lionsgate will finance and distribute. Quirk Books published the tome.

Though Austen’s name is on the book, Grahame-Smith took the liberty of adding bloodthirsty flesh-eating zombies to the mix.

Portman will produce through her handsomecharlie shingle with Annette Savitch, plus Darko Films’ Richard Kelly, Sean McKittrick and Ted Hamm.

Described as an expanded version of the Austen classic, the book tells the timeless story of a woman’s quest for love and independence amid the outbreak of a deadly virus that turns the undead into vicious killers.

Portman will play feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet, who is distracted from her quest to eradicate the zombie menace by the arrival of the arrogant Mr. Darcy. Darko just released “The Box,” “World’s Greatest Dad” and “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.”

Portman stars in the Jim Sheridan-directed drama “Brothers” for Relativity Media and Lionsgate. Her handsomecharlie banner recently set up “Booksmart” at Fox and is partnered with Plan B at Paramount on an adaptation of the Leanne Shapton book “Important Artifacts,” a potential screen vehicle for Portman and Brad Pitt.

Her shingle just wrapped production on “Hesher.”

“Natalie and I are longtime passionate fans of Jane Austen’s books and this a fresh, fun and thought-provoking way to approach her work,” Savitch said. “The idea of zombies running rampant in 19th Century England may sound odd, but it lends a modern sense of urgency to a well known love story.”

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more