Former Bond Girl to Star in Ingrid Betancourt Biopic (Exclusive)

Caterina Murino P 2012

Italian actress Caterina Murino will play the former Colombian presidential candidate in the English-language film "In Search of Ingrid."

In the race to bring the story of former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt to the big screen, an independent production has jumped out in front of a bigger-budget Hollywood project by casting a former Bond girl in the lead role.

Italian actress Caterina Murino, who played Solange, the temptress who seduced Agent 007 in the 2006 James Bond movie Casino Royale, will star as Betancourt in the English-language film In Search of Ingrid.

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Based on two books by Betancourt’s former husband Juan Carlos Lecompete, the movie tells the story of what happened when Betancourt, a senator in Colombia and at the time a candidate for president, was taken hostage by terrorists and held in a South American jungle from 2002 to 2008 before being rescued by Colombian security forces. She is now living in France.

The movie will be directed by Betty Kaplan, who also wrote the screenplay. It is expected to shoot this year in either Colombia or Puerto Rico on a budget of less than $10 million.

Kaplan, a native of Venezuela who lives in Los Angeles, previously adapted and directed a movie based on Isabel Allende's Of Love and Shadows, which starred Antonio Banderas; Dona Barbara, by Romulo Gallegos; and One Hot Summer, by Carolina Garcia Aguilera, which was a highly rated 2010 Lifetime movie. She also directed Almost a Woman, which aired on Masterpiece Theater in 2006 and won a Peabody Award.

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The role of Lecompete will be played by Valentino Lanus, a popular Mexican actor and photographer. Lanús also is producing along with former talent agent Peter Rawley and Robert Katz.

International sales are being handled by Ian Jessel of Ambassador, who is expected to launch the movie in Berlin in February. There is no domestic distribution as yet.

Around the same time last year that Kaplan acquired the rights to the husband’s books, producer Kathleen Kennedy and the Kennedy/Marshall Co. acquired rights to Betancourt’s book Even Silence Has an End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle. Kennedy said at the time they were developing a screenplay.

On Monday, Kennedy was out of the country and not available to comment, But there have been no announcements on that DreamWorks project concerning a director, casting or production start.

A former model, Murino was born in Sardinia and speaks Italian, English, Spanish and French. Her credits also include a number of European productions and the role of Marita in the 2008 movie The Garden of Eden, which starred Mena Suvari and was released in the U.S. by Roadside Attractions. She also appearedin two miniseries: The Aurelio Zen Mysteries for the BBC and XIII for Canal Plus.

Murino has most recently been in production in Portugal on the French-language movie Odysseus, based on The Odyssey by Homer, playing the role of Penelope.

Murino will be in Las Vegas on Tuesday as part of the announcement of the release of a James Bond Blu-ray collection.