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Inside Move: ‘Pianist’ tries different key

Polanski searches for his Szpilman through open Brit audition

LONDON — “Man aged 25-35, slight build, dark colouring. … He needs to be sensitive, vulnerable and charismatic.” A personal ad? Actually, an invitation to play the leading role in Roman Polanski’s next film.

As publicized in the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper, an open audition, for which acting experience is “not essential,” will be held Sept. 30 in London’s Covent Garden to find a perfect fit for the role of Polish musician Wladyslaw Szpilman.

Polanski has waited a long time to make “The Pianist,” based on Szpilman’s autobiography. Originally published in 1946 and suppressed for decades by the Polish government, it recounts its author’s narrow escape from the Nazi concentration camps, an experience similar to the director’s.

Alex Johnson, of casting agency Celestia Fox, told the Guardian, “He feels there is someone out there, and not necessarily an actor, who embodies what he feels about Szpilman. Obviously, the ability to play the piano would help, but he is looking at this in a very broad way.”

Polanski, unable to attend the auditions because of the threat of extradition to the U.S., will begin shooting in Warsaw next year on the $35 million production, which is backed by StudioCanal.

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