Lara joins cast of Daldry's 'Reader'

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BERLIN -- Romanian-born actress Alexandra Maria Lara, who played Hitler's secretary in "Downfall" and more recently starred in Francis Ford Coppola's "Youth Without Youth," has joined the cast of Stephen Daldry's "The Reader."

Lara, who starts shooting Tuesday, will play the role of Ilana, a former victim of Kate Winslet's concentration camp guard Hanna Schmitz.

"The Reader," which went on hiatus last year when star Nicole Kidman was forced to drop out because of her pregnancy, quietly resumed production in Gorlitz, Germany last week and is currently filming its courthouse scenes in the Berlin suburb of Zehlendorf.

Shooting will then move to Cologne's MMC studios and the historic office building of insurance company HDI-Gerling.

The film -- which also stars Ralph Fiennes, Bruno Ganz and David Kross -- is based on the international best-seller by German author Bernhard Schlink, with a screenplay by David Hare. It is a co-production between the Weinstein Co. and Mirage Enterprises in cooperation with Studio Babelsberg and Senfkornfilm, with additional funding provided by state subsidies Filmstiftung NRW, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, MDM and federal production fund DFFFF.

MGM and the Weinstein Co. are set to release the film in the U.S. in December, with Senator premiering it in Germany in early 2009.

Lara is represented by Players.
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