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Kingsley, Skarsgard sign up for ‘Physician’

Noah Gordon adaptation to shoot in June

Ben Kingsley, Stellan Skarsgard and Tom Payne have signed up for “The Physician,” UFA Cinema’s adaptation of Noah Gordon’s bestseller about a medieval healer who travels from England to Persia to study medicine.

Directed by Philipp Stoelzl (“Young Goethe in Love”) from a script by Jan Berger, the film begins production in June in Morocco and Germany.

“The Physician” tells the story of Rob Cole, a penniless orphan in an 11th-century English mining town who journeys to Persia to study medicine under Ibn Sina, the philosopher-scientist known as the “doctor of all doctors.”

Payne, the young English actor who most recently appeared in HBO’s “Luck,” plays the titular protagonist, while Kingsley stars as Ibn Sina. Skarsgard, who currently appears in “The Avengers,” plays Barber, Rob’s first mentor. The pic also features French thesp Olivier Martinez as the Persian shah.

“The novel is not only a great adventure revealing the fascinating world of medieval medicine,” said Stoelzl, “it also explores some of life’s big questions — about the meaning of death, whether religion is a liberating force or a prison of the mind, and the culture clash between East and West — all topics that concern us more than ever today.”

Beta Cinema is handling world sales and co-producing with ARD Degeto.

Published in 1986, “The Physician” has sold more than 21 million copies worldwide.

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