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Paul Giamatti joins Carlei’s ‘Romeo’

Julian Fellowes produces, pens script

Paul Giamatti has joined the cast of Carlo Carlei’s adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet,” set to start shooting in Italy this month.

Giamatti will play Friar Lawrence, advisor to both Romeo and Juliet, and a key character in Shakespeare’s play.

As previously announced, Hailee Steinfeld plays Juliet, while British thesp Douglas Booth is her Romeo. Ed Westwick and Kodi Smit-McPhee play the two lovers’ cousins, Tybalt and Benvolio.

Amber Entertainment is producing what is being touted as the “Romeo and Juliet” for the “Twilight” generation. RAI Cinema will distribute in Italy.

Italy’s Indiana Prods,, in which helmer Gabriele Muccino is a partner, is exec-producing, marking its first involvement in an English-language feature.

Shooting will take place in Mantua, the Northern Italian city to which Romeo was banished in the play, and at Rome’s Cinecitta Studios, where a lavish set is being built reconstructing the Mantua family crypt where the protags die in the finale.

The screenplay is by Julian Fellowes (“Gosford Park,” “Downton Abbey”) who is also producing with Ileen Maisel and Lawrence Elman of Amber.

David Tattersall, who shot the three “Star Wars” prequels and more recently “Gulliver’s Travels,” is on board as lenser. Costume designer is Carlo Poggioli (“The Raven”).

Pic will be eligible for Italy’s generous tax credits for foreign productions, which offer up to 25% of a pic’s budget, capped at $6.5 million.

Previous works by Carlei, who is Italian but based in Hollywood, include “Fluke,” “The Last Legion” and Italo telepic “Il generale della Rovere.”

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