Cannes: Maggie Smith to Star in Israel Horovitz's 'My Old Lady'

Getty Images

The movie will mark the directorial debut for the playwright and screenwriter, whose credits include "Author! Author!" starring Al Pacino.

LONDON – Maggie Smith of Downton Abbey fame has joined Kevin Kline, Jane Birkin and Dominique Pinon in the cast for Israel Horovitz's My Old Lady.

The Paris-based dramatic comedy marks the feature film directorial debut for playwright and screenwriter Horovitz, who adapted his award-winning stage play for the screen.

VIDEO: Maggie Smith Says She Hasn't Watched 'Downton Abbey'

It's the story of a down-and-out New Yorker who travels to Paris to liquidate a huge, valuable apartment he has inherited from his estranged father. He discovers a refined old lady living in the apartment with her daughter and learns that she and his father were lovers for more than 50 years.

STORY: Shirley MacLaine Goes Toe-to-Toe With Maggie Smith in 'Downton Abbey' Debut

Principal photography is scheduled to begin in Paris in September. U.K.-based sales and finance banner Protagonist Pictures will begin touting the picture to international buyers during the upcoming Marche du Film, while New York-based label Cinetic Media looks to pitch it for a North American sale.

Rachael Horovitz (Moneyball) teams with French producers Raphael Benoliel (Midnight Ii Paris), Nitsa Benchetrit (The Black Waters of Echo's Pond) and David Barrot (Eyes Wide Open) to produce.

Co-producing is French stage producer Marie-Cecile Renauld.

Said Horovitz: "Of all my stage plays, My Old Lady is my very favorite. For years, this play has cried out to me to be seen in its Paris setting, to become a film…to create this film with Maggie Smith, Kevin Kline, Jane Birkin and Dominique Pinon is beyond thrilling. For me, this defines thrilling."

Israel Horovitz’s screenwriting credits include counterculture classic The Strawberry Statement, the Al Pacino comedy Author! Author! and Istvan Szabo's Sunshine.

Dividing his time between the U.S. and France, Horovitz is billed as the most-produced U.S. playwright in French theater history. He was recently decorated as Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France’s highest honor given to foreign artists.

His early play The Indian Wants the Bronx introduced a young Pacino and John Cazale to the world, while his Park Your Car in Harvard Yard starred Jason Robards in its Broadway premiere.