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Jessica Chastain Attached to Star in 'The Zookeeper's Wife' (Exclusive)

Jessica Chastain Headshot - P 2013
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jessica Chastain

Niki Caro is on board to direct the project, which Panorama is expected to sell at Cannes.

Jessica Chastain is attached to star in The Zookeeper’s Wife, the adaptation of the novel by Diane Ackerman.

Niki Caro has come aboard to direct the World War II story, which Panorama is financing and producing. The project is expected to hit the market in Cannes, according to several sources.

Scion’s Jeff Abberley, Tollin Prods’ Mike Tollin and Kim Zubick, and Rowe/Miller’s Diane Miller-Levin and Robbie Rowe-Tollin are producing on the movie.

Wife is the true account of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, who helped save hundreds during the Nazi invasion.

When the Nazi army overran Warsaw, destroying the city and its zoo, Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. The Zabinskis also took about a dozen Jews into their home.

While danger was always present, and her husband was part of the Polish resistance, Antonina Zabinski kept a mix of humans and surviving animals (lynxes and hyena pups, among them) humming in a one-of-a-kind community that included socializing and even the occasional piano concert.

The book was published by W.W. Norton in 2007.

Angela Workman wrote the screenplay.

CAA is repping the project's North American distribution rights.

Chastain is coming off Zero Dark Thirty, for which she was nominated for an Oscar, and the surprise hit horror movie Mama. She will shoot a starring turn in Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak in the first quarter of 2014.

Caro, whose credits include Whale Rider and North Country, last helmed 2009’s A Heavenly Vintage (aka The Vintner’s Luck).

Chastain is repped by CAA, Mosaic and Hansen Jacobson. Caro is repped by Echo Lake Entertainment and Lichter Grossman. Workman is repped by Gersh and Stankevich Gochman.

Email: Borys.Kit@thr.com

Twitter: @borys_kit