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Newcomer Suraj Sharma Takes Lead In Ang Lee’s ‘Life of Pi,’ Filming Begins In January

Newcomer Suraj Sharma Takes Lead In Ang Lee's 'Life of Pi,' Filming Begins In January

Picture Will Shoot In 3D; Release Date Set For December 14, 2012

Ang Lee hasn’t had the easiest few years since “Brokeback Mountain.” While that film saw him win the Best Director award at the Oscars, his next film, “Lust, Caution,” was tarred with an NC-17 for its explicit sex scenes, and follow-up “Taking Woodstock” received mediocre reviews, and basically disappeared without a trace on its release in 2009.

There have been a number of contenders for his next project, including a “suicidally depressing” script by frequent collaborator James Schamus, possibly based on the Greek tragedy “Iphigenia at Aulis,” and a biopic of Chinese pop star Teresa Teng, but it’s looked likely for over a year now that Lee’s next film would be an adaptation of the acclaimed best-selling Yann Martel novel “Life of Pi.”

The book, which follows a young Indian boy trapped, after a shipwreck, in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger, a hyena, a zebra and an orangutan, has seen the likes of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and M. Night Shyamalan attempt to adapt it at various points, but despite recent rumors of budgetary issues on the project, Lee’s version looks set to be moving forward, with the announcement overnight that it had finally found its lead.

17-year-old newcomer Suraj Sharma, a student from Delhi, will take on the role of Pi Patel, the title character. Sharma has never acted before, but presumably impressed Lee, who picked him after auditioning over 3000 prospective actors from around the world. The script’s by David Magee (“Finding Neverland“), and DoP Claudio Miranda (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Tron: Legacy“) will be behind the camera. The film will be shot in 3D, confirming earlier reports.

Pre-production’s underway, and filming will finally kick off in January. In theory it could be done in time for the awards season next year, but with the animals being created through CGI, a lengthy post-production is apparently in the works as the film has been given a December 14, 2012 release date. Despite having misgivings over the novel, we’re big fans of the chameleonic Lee, and we’re excited to see what he can do here. [Variety]

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