Thesp trio ties the knot for ‘Divorce’

Close, Modine, Fry join Watts, Hudson

PARIS — Glenn Close, Matthew Modine and Stephen Fry have joined the cast of $12.5 million contemporary comedy “Le Divorce,” starring Naomi Watts and Kate Hudson, helmer James Ivory said Thursday.

Stockard Channing, James Waterston and French thesps Leslie Caron, Thierry Lhermitte and Melvil Poupaud also star.

The mostly English-lingo pic, which starts shooting in Paris Monday, is produced by Ismail Merchant and financed by Fox Searchlight. Radar Pictures’ Ted Field, Scott Kroopf and Erica Huggins are exec producing with Michael Schiffer.

Ivory and Ruth Prawar Jhabvala adapted the script from American writer Diane Johnson’s bestselling novel.

Paris-based Ivory told Daily Variety he had been pursuing the project for five years. “I read the book when it came out after seeing a review in the International Herald Tribune. It sounded like it could be fun.”

But although Ivory and author Johnson, who are both repped by CAA, met in Paris, Radar Pictures had already optioned the book, so the idea was put on hold. The social comedy concerns two American sisters confronted with the complex mores of French bourgeois society. “In the end, the whole American family comes up against wily foreigners, and they wage war,” said Ivory, adding that he was “looking forward to making a contemporary comedy for a change.”

Watts plays the elder sister, brutally ditched in her eighth month of pregnancy by an immature French husband, played by Gallic actor Poupaud (now in Marion Vernoux’s “Reines d’un jour”). Hudson plays her cynical younger sister. Close plays an American writer living in Paris; Modine has been cast as the deranged spouse of the deserting husband’s new love. Fry will play a Christie’s art expert.

Channing and Waterston are the American parents, while Leslie Caron is the uptight Gallic matriarch.