Berlin: Haley Bennett and Matthias Schweighofer Eye Marcel Marceau Biopic 'Resistance'

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Haley Bennett

Jesse Eisenberg has already been cast as the famed mime artist in the film, which Rocket Science is offering to buyers in Berlin.

Haley Bennett (Girl on the Train, The Red Sea Diving Resort) and German star Matthias Schweighofer (The Manny, Kursk) are in talks for key roles in Resistance, writer-director Jonathan Jakubowicz’s upcoming biopic of legendary mime artist Marcel Marceau.

Oscar nominee Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) has already been cast in the lead.

The film, which Warner Bros. has now acquired for Germany, will follow the life of Marceau and his key involvement in the French Resistance during World War II. Schweighofer is set to play notorious SS commander Klaus Barbie, who was personally assigned by Adolf Hitler to dismantle the Resistance, while Bennett will star as Emma, a Resistance fighter who helped inspire Marceau to join her in rescuing thousands of children and walking them out of France and into Switzerland.

For his work during WWII, Marceau was made Grand Officier de la Legion d’Honneur and was awarded the National Order of Merit in France. He even counted Michael Jackson as a friend (Jackson credited him as the original creator of his legendary moonwalk).

Rocket Science, which is co-financing and producing the project with Pantaleon Films and producing with Epicentral, is handling international sales in Berlin. CAA reps for domestic.

"Haley is a true artist, a force of nature who immediately understood the character I wrote better than I ever could," said Jakubowicz of Bennett. "Emma is the reason the lives of hundreds of children were saved. I cannot wait to capture the fury of Haley's beautiful soul embodying the heroism of the French Resistance."

Of Schweighofer, he added: "High-profile Nazis are often portrayed as one dimensional psychopaths. But Klaus Barbie is complex and systematic, and so convinced he’s doing the right thing, he enjoys every part of it. To see his cruelty blend with the immensely charismatic power of Matthias, will shake audiences to their bones and leave them with his horrors forever. Nothing is more powerful than realizing that true evil is human."

Principal photography on Resistance is set to commence in the fall.

This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's Feb. 17 daily issue at the Berlin International Film Festival.