Banderas to play Picasso

Spanish actor takes lead in Carlos Saura's '33 Days'

Madrid– Antonio Banderas will play Pablo Picasso in Carlos Saura’s upcoming “33 dias” (33 Days), about the painter’s emotional turmoil as he worked on masterpiece “Guernica.”

“33 dias” refers to the time Picasso spent on the mural, which captured his reaction to the destruction of Basque town of Guernica in 1937 by the Nazi Luftwaffe during the Spanish Civil War.

Picasso “is a character that has pursued me for a long time and I always rejected. He deserves a lot of respect because I am from Malaga, and I was born four blocks from where he was born,” Banderas said in an interview published Sunday by Spanish newspaper El Pais.

The French and Spanish language-shoot will roll next summer in Paris and Guernica.

Project re-teams Carlos Saura with vet Spanish producer Elias Querejeta.

Saura and Querejeta penned the script alongside French writer Louis-Charles Sirjacq.

Budgeted over Euros6 million ($7.9 million), pic is produced by Bilbao-based Idem 4 and co-produced by Cinevedas, which has offices in France, Canada and India.

Triple Academy Award-winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (“Apocalypse Now”) is in advanced talks to join the project.

In the film, Saura shows how painting “Guernica” proved near salvation for Picasso at a moment of personal crisis. Pic focuses on Picasso’s relationship with his lover, French artist Dora Maar.