James Gandolfini is 'In the Loop'

Anna Chlumsky set to make her feature return

NEW YORK -- James Gandolfini, Steve Coogan, David Rasche and former child actor Anna Chlumsky will star in the political satire "In the Loop" for BBC Films.

Gandolfini will play a U.S. general in the unofficial adaptation of the BBC series "The Thick of It," which parodies the inner workings of U.S. and British government agencies and their international relations in a tale of war-hungry politicians. Chlumsky plays a State Department assistant and Rache ("United 93") is an undersecretary of state, and Coogan ("Hamlet 2") plays a disgruntled U.S. citizen.

"Thick" scribe Armando Iannucci is directing from his screenplay. Peter Capaldi, Chris Addison and Paul Higgins from the British series star, and series writers Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche and Ian Martin co-wrote the film. Tom Hollander and Gina McKee also star.

Kevin Loader (Miramax's "Venus," "Brideshead Revisited") and Adam Tandy are among the producers, and the U.K. Film Council also is producing in association with Aramid Entertainment. Optimum Releasing has obtained U.K. theatrical rights. Filming gets under way this month in Washington, New York and London.

The film marks a prestigious return for "My Girl" star Chlumsky, who unknowingly trained for her government assistant character while studying international relations at the University of Chicago. After teen acting roles dried up, she says she experienced a "pre-life crisis." She moved to Brooklyn in 2002 and took stints fact-checking for the restaurant guide Zagat and editing at HarperCollins sci-fi imprint Eos.

An epiphany soon came at her nail salon, she said. "Roberta Flack was there getting a manicure and recognized me," Chlumsky recalled. "She told me I should stay in the business. So did a psychic I met on the street." Stints in off-Broadway plays followed, as did a few minor screen roles, including her friends' low-budget horror film "Blood Car."

The articulate actress still lives in Brooklyn with her new husband, who did a tour in Afghanistan in the Army Reserve. She said she hasn't been in touch with onscreen beau Macaulay Culkin in about two years.

"I'm glad the psychic stopped me and told me what I should do," she added. "It was stuff I knew, but had been supressing for a long time."

Gandolfini is repped by Endeavor and Sanders Armstrong Caserta Management. Chlumsky and Rasche are repped by Innovative and Liebman Entertainment.