Two for Polanski’s ‘Twist’

Kingsley toplines pic playing Fagin

This article was updated at 7:38 p.m.

PARIS — Ben Kingsley will play Fagin and 10-year-old English actor Barney Clark will essay the title role in Roman Polanski’s “Oliver Twist.”

Clark attended a press conference Monday with the helmer in Paris. Polanski also announced other key cast members for his adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel, including Jamie Foreman as Bill Sykes and Frank Finlay as Mr. Brownlow.

Pic, which starts a four-month shoot July 12 in Prague, is produced by Alain Sarde and Robert Benmussa, the team behind Polanski’s “The Pianist.”

Finance comes from co-producers Pathe, which will distribute in France and the U.K.; Medusa, which will release the pic in Italy; the U.K.’s Runteam; and Czech partner Etic.

The film will be lensed entirely in the Czech republic, with interiors and exteriors built on Barrandov Studios’ backlot.

Summit is handling international sales.

Many of the key creatives also worked on “The Pianist,” led by scripter Ron Harwood, lenser Pawel Edelman, costume designer Anna Sheppard, production designer Allan Starski and editor Herve de Luze.

But Polanski insisted that despite the Dickens saga’s somber undertones and the hardships of his own childhood in the Warsaw ghetto, the pic will not dwell on the darker side of life.

“I want to make a film for children, in particular my own children, who deserve it. It is going to be colorful and not dark as ‘The Pianist’ was,” he said.

But Polanski intends to portray Victorian London as realistically as possible.

“If you think that traffic jams are something of the present, you are wrong — they had the most monumental traffic jams then. We want to reconstruct that and give a feeling of it.”

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