Brazilian actress and model Maria Fernanda Candido is to play the female lead in veteran Italian auteur Marco Bellocchio’s “The Traitor,” a biopic of Tommaso Buscetta, the first high-ranking member of Cosa Nostra to break the Sicilian Mafia’s oath of silence.

Candido, who most recently starred in Rede Globo’s popular prime-time soap “Edge of Desire,” will play Buscetta’s third wife, Maria Cristina de Almeida Guimaraes, the daughter of an upper-crust Brazilian lawyer. She played an important part in her husband’s decision in 1984 to start cooperating with Italian and, later, American prosecutors. 

She is believed to have been crucial in prompting Buscetta to turn against the Corleonesi faction in the first major “betrayal” within Cosa Nostra’s high-ranks. Buscetta’s testimony about heroin smuggling in the ”pizza connection” case in the mid-1980s allowed him to obtain U.S. citizenship and a place in the witness protection program. De Almeida Guimaraes stayed by Buscetta’s side until he died of cancer in 2000 in an undisclosed U.S. location.

Shooting on “The Traitor” starts Monday in Sicily with Italian A-lister Pierfrancesco Favino (“The Catcher Was a Spy”) playing Buscetta, as previously announced. 

Besides Candido, other newly announced cast members comprise Italy’s Luigi Lo Cascio, who will be playing Salvatore “Totuccio” Contorno, a Mafioso who followed in Buscetta’s footsteps by becoming a turncoat; Fabrizio Ferracane in the role of mob boss Giuseppe “Pippo” Calò; and Fausto Russo Alesi as anti-Mafia magistrate Giovanni Falcone, who elicited Buscetta’s testimony and was blown up by Cosa Nostra.

From Sicily the shoot will move to Rome, Cologne, London, and Rio de Janeiro, where “The Traitor” is planned to wrap Dec. 22. The pic’s cinematographer is Vladan Radovic (“Like Crazy”), while Oscar-winner Nicola Piovani (“Life Is Beautiful”) is handling the musical score.

Bellocchio’s prize-winning body of work spans from “Fists in the Pockets” (1965) to “Sweet Dreams,” which launched from Cannes in 2016. The director is known for bringing the complexities of Italian history, and hypocrisy, to the big screen.

“The Traitor” is a four-country co-production between Italy’s IBC Movie, Kavac Film and RAI Cinema; France’s Ad Vitam, Arte France Cinema and Canal Plus; Brazil’s Gullane; and Germany’s The Match Factory, which is handling international sales.