Dutch star cast in 'The Borgias'

Lotte Verbeek cast as Giulia Farnese opposite Jeremy Irons

COLOGNE, Germany -- Dutch star Lotte Verbeek has been cast to star opposite Jeremy Irons in "The Borgias," the epic mini-series on the notorious 15th century Italian family which Neil Jordon is directing for Showtime and Canada's CTV.

Verbeek will play Giulia Farnese, the young mistress of Rodrigo Borgia (Irons), otherwise known as Pope Alexander VI, one of history's most infamous pontiffs.

Farnese was famed for her beauty and several 15th century masters are thought to have used her for inspiration, including Raphael in his portrait "Young Woman With Unicorn."

Verbeek is currently on set of "The Borgias" in Budapest.

The 28-year-old actress won the best actress prize at Locarno last year for starring turn opposite Stephen Rea in Urszula Antoniak's "Nothing Personal" and was one of the talents picked as a European Shooting Star at the Berlin Film Festival in February.

But Verbeek's London agent Jeremy Conway told THR he pitched Verbeek on the basis of her striking resemblance to portraits of the real-life Farnese.

Another of Conway's talents, Brit actor Elyes Gabel ("Casualty") has also been cast in the supporting role of Djem, a Turkish man sent by the Sultan of Turkey to be murdered by the Borgia family.

"The Borgias" cast also includes Brits David Oakes and Holliday Grainger, playing brother and sister Juan and Lucrezia Borgia and Derek Jacobi as Cardinal Orsini.

Neil Jordan wrote the teleplay for the series and will receive an executive producer credit on the mini, together with James Flynn, Michale Hirst, John Weber and Sheila Hockin.