Cannes: Natalie Portman to Star in French Ghost Story ‘Planetarium’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Natalie Portman Annihilation
Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Natalie Portman and Lily Rose Depp, the daughter of actor Johnny Depp, will play spiritualist sisters in “Planetarium,” a 1930s-set drama to be directed by French helmer Rebecca Zlotowski (“Grand Central”), Variety has learned.

“Planetarium” will mark Portman’s first time working with a French director since her role in Luc Besson’s “Leon” in 1994. She’s been beefing up on her French to prepare for the role.

Although plot details are kept under wraps, Zlotowski told Variety that the film follows the journey of sisters who are believed to possess the supernatural ability to connect with ghosts. They cross paths with a visionary French producer while performing in Paris.

The political context of “Planetarium” will have a modern resonance with the current crisis and rise of extremism in Europe. The character of the producer is freely inspired by Jewish producer Bernard Natan, one of the biggest French film industry figures of the ’20s and ’30s, who eventually died in Auschwitz.

The film is co-written by Zlotowski and Robin Campillo, who previously penned “The Returned,” the feature film that inspired Canal Plus’ supernatural drama series.

Frederic Jouve’s Les Films Velvet is producing; Ad Vitam will distribute in France. Principal photography will begin in Paris in September for an expected delivery in May 2016.

Repped by Gregoire Melin’s Kinology, “Planetarium” is Zlotowski’s third directorial effort, following Cannes’ 2013 Un Certain Regard player “Grand Central,” and 2010’s “Belle Epine,” which gave Lea Seydoux her first big role and world premiered at Cannes’ Critics’ Week, where it won the Louis Delluc prize for best first film.

Portman will be in Cannes this year with her directorial debut, “A Tale of Love and Darkness.”

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  1. In the early 70s, I wrote “Knock, Knock,” a screenplay for a short film about the infamous Fox sisters who brought spiritualism to mainstream attention in upstate New York and across the country. Morgan Brittany played one of the sisters. It was syndicated widely. Wonder if “Planetarium” is inspired by the same material? It’s a great story.

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