John Lithgow, Freida Pinto join 'Apes'

Fox's prequel stars James Franco

John Lithgow and Freida Pinto are coming on board "Rise of the Apes," Fox's prequel to its "Planet of the Apes" franchise starring James Franco.

Rupert Wyatt will direct the feature, which focuses on a scientist (Franco) who has been working on a cure for Alzheimer's that is being tested on apes. The test subject named Caesar evolves rapidly, and the scientist takes him home to live with him and protects him from cruel doctors.

Lithgow will play Franco's Alzheimer's-stricken father. Pinto is the movie's female lead, a primatologist.

The movie shoots this summer in British Columbia.

Peter Chernin and Dylan Clark will produce for Chernin Entertainment. Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa wrote the screenplay and are producing.

Pinto made her acting debut with "Slumdog Millionaire" and is shooting "Immortals," the Greek gods fantasy directed by Tarsem Singh.

Lithgow is coming off a career-rejuvenating turn as a villainous serial killer in Showtime's "Dexter," a role that earned him a Golden Globe. On film, he last appeared this year in the romantic comedy "Leap Year."

Both actors are repped by CAA.