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Italy-set story is based on Jess Walter's bestseller

“Need For Speed” actress Imogen Poots will star in Cross Creek Pictures and Smuggler Films’ “Beautiful Ruins” with Todd Field set to direct. Filming is set to start in May in Italy.

Based on the Jess Walter novel that became a bestseller after its publication in June 2012, the story follows an American ingenue who travels to Italy in 1962 during the production of “Cleopatra.” Poots will star as the young actress Dee Moray. Casting is under way for the male roles, which include a young Italian hotelier, “Cleopatra” star Richard Burton, a WWII veteran working to complete a novel and a studio raconteur.

Field, who directed “Little Children” and “In the Bedroom,” is writing the script with Walter. Field will produce through his Standard Film, along with Cross Creek’s Brian Oliver and Tyler Thompson and Smuggler’s Brian Carmody and Patrick Milling Smith. Adam Kassan will oversee production for Cross Creek.

After breaking onto the scene in the horror pic “28 Weeks Later,” Poots has become one of Hollywood’s hot young actresses. In the next year she has films set to bow that include Focus’ “The Awkward Moment” with Zac Efron, “Need For Speed,” “A Long Way Down” and “All Is By My Side.”

She recently completed lensing “Squirrels To The Nuts.” She is repped by CAA and Independent in the U.K.

CAA, which packaged the film, will represent its domestic distribution rights.

“Beautiful Ruins” has sold more than a million copies and has been translated into 25 languages.

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