Trio sign on for pyramid scheme

Amenabar has his stars for Egypt-set mystery drama

Rachel Weisz, Ashraf Barhom and Oscar Isaac will star in Alejandro Amenabar's untitled English-language movie being prepped for a major shoot in Malta.

Much of the project, which Amenabar wrote and is directing, has been shrouded under a veil of secrecy (HR 2/12). A historical drama set in early Egypt, it centers on a slave who turns to the rising tide of Christianity in the hopes of pursuing freedom while also falling in love with his master, a philosophy professor and atheist.

Weisz will play Hypatia, the Alexandrian professor.

Barhom — one of the stars of the Oscar-nominated Palestinian film "Paradise Now" who also stole scenes from the American stars in Universal's "The Kingdom" — is playing a zealous Christian monk named Ammonius. Isaac, who played Joseph in New Line's "The Nativity Story" and appears in Steven Soderbergh's "Guerrilla," is set as Orestes, who has an unrequited love for Hypatia.

Sunmin Park and Fernando Bovira are producing the film, which sometimes operates under the title "Mists of Time." Telecinco Cinema is putting up a large chunk of the €50 million ($72.9 million) budget.

The production is still pointing for a March start despite several setbacks. According to Maltese sources, set workers went on strike over late payments last week and the project lost a location.

Weisz, Barhom and Isaac are repped by Endeavor. Weisz, who will next be seen in "The Brother's Bloom" and "The Lonely Bones," is also repped by the Firm, London's Independent Talent Group and Hirsch, Wallerstein Hayum, Matlof & Fishman. Isaac additionally is repped by Inspire Entertainment.

Charles Masters contributed to this report.