U.K. helmer boards live-action adaptation

British helmer Stephen Frears has officially signed on to direct a live-action feature adaptation of Posy Simmonds’ acclaimed graphic novel “Tamara Drewe.”

Brit thesp Gemma Arterton will play Drewe, a sexy flirt who returns to her small country village and stirs up dark passions among the locals.

Also boarding the cast are Dominic Cooper, Roger Allam, Luke Evans, Bill Camp and Tamsin Greig.

Simmonds’ novel, itself a collection of comicstrips she first published in U.K. newspaper the Guardian, is a modern reimagining of Thomas Hardy’s classic novel “Far From the Madding Crowd.” Moira Buffini has adapted the script.

Ruby Films and BBC Films are producing the project, along with West End Films, which is handling international sales.

Ruby Films co-topper Alison Owen receives a producer credit along with Tracey Seaward (“The Queen”); Paul Trijbits, Scott Rudin, Sharon Harel and BBC Films’ Christine Langan all draw exec producer credits.

Project has also received development and production coin from the U.K. Film Council’s Development and Premiere funds.

Lensing begins Sept. 21 on location in the U.K. and at Pinewood Studios.

“I’ve loved Posy Simmonds’ work for a long time,” Frears said.

Frears had been circling a number of projects, including Fox Searchlight’s “The Descendants,” before committing to direct “Tamara Drewe.” (Alexander Payne recently signed on for “The Descendants.”) Pic will be Frears’ first feature since Michelle Pfeiffer starrer “Cheri.”

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