By Andreas Wiseman
EXCLUSIVE: Monty Python star John Cleese and Gomorrah actor Fortunato Cerlino have been confirmed to us as among supporting cast for Roman Polanski’s new movie The Palace, which is in production in Switzerland.
German actor Oliver Masucci and French actress Fanny Ardant lead cast in the movie, which Wild Bunch is handling for sales. Mickey Rourke also stars.
The drama, set on New Year’s Eve 1999 in a luxurious hotel, sees the lives of hotel workers and various guests intertwine. Script comes from Polanski and fellow Polish veteran Jerzy Skolimowsk while crew includes Polanski’s regular cinematographer Pawel Edelman.
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The project was first announced last year by Italian broadcaster Rai as part of their slate. Italian actor-producer Luca Barbareschi is lead producer via his Eliseo Entertainment company. CAB Productions is the Swiss co-producer with Polish outfit Lucky Bob also aboard.
Polanski, director of films including The Pianist, Chinatown and Rosemary’s Baby, remains a lightning rod for controversy in the industry and beyond due to his 1977 arrest and charge in the U.S. for drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl. Polanski pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of unlawful sex with a minor. Upon learning that the U.S. judge planned to reject his plea deal and impose a prison term instead of probation, he fled to Paris. As a result, Polanski is a fugitive from America.
Last month a group of Swiss technicians, actors and filmmakers – writing in Swiss publication Le Temps – denounced the new production for giving the filmmaker a platform.
Despite his conviction and 2018 expulsion from the Academy in America, the Oscar winner has continued to work in Europe and garner awards. His latest film An Officer And A Spy won three César Awards in France and four prizes at the Venice Film Festival in 2020. However, multiple members of France’s César Academy resigned following an outcry over the film’s 12 nominations. The big-budget drama achieved wide distribution in Europe and backing from multiple European companies, but no UK or U.S. distributor would pick the film up.
Oscar nominee Cleese is best known for his work in comedy troupe Monty Python, classic British TV series Fawlty Towers and movies such as A Fish Called Wanda. Veteran Italian actor Cerlino is best known for portraying mafia boss Pietro Savastano in hit TV series Gomorrah.
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