‘Normal People’ Star Paul Mescal Joins Melissa Barrera in Benjamin Millepied’s ‘Carmen’ (EXCLUSIVE)

‘Normal People’ star Paul Mescal will play the male lead in Benjamin Millepied’s film “Carmen,” a modern-day reimagining of one of the world’s most celebrated operas. Mescal will star opposite Melissa Barrera (“Vida”), who will play the titular role of Carmen.

Mescal replaces “Fifty Shades” star Jamie Dornan, who was previously attached to the role.

“Carmen” will mark the feature debut of Millepied, a former principal dancer from the New York City Ballet who choreographed Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan.”

The adaptation was penned by Oscar-winning screenwriter Alexander Dinelaris Jr (“Birdman”), together with Millepied and Loic Barrère.

Dimitri Rassam (“The Best Is Yet To Come,” “Le Brio” and “The Little Prince”) is financing and producing via his banner Chapter 2, a Mediawan company, together with Rosemary Blight (“The Invisible Man,” “The Sapphires”) at Goalpost Pictures, one of Australia’s most dynamic independent film companies. TF1 Studio is co-producing and handling worldwide sales.

The movie will start shooting on Jan. 18 in Australia for seven weeks. Goalpost Pictures will handle the production locally.

As previously announced, Sony Pictures Classics will distribute the film in North America and will also handle distribution in Latin America, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, CIS and the Middle East. CAA Media Finance brokered the deal with SPC on behalf of the producers. Pathe will distribute the film in France (with Canal Plus and France 2 already on board as local broadcasters) and Vision Distribution will distribute in Italy.

Millepied assembled a strong key crew, including the Oscar-nominated music composer Nicholas Britell (“Moonlight,” “Vice”) who is composing an original score, and the acclaimed cinematographer Jörg Widmer (“A Hidden Life”).

“Carmen” will feature nine new songs by Britell, as well as Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Julieta Venegas, and Taura Stinson (“Mudbound”). Sony Music will release the soundtrack album.

Mescal is the Emmy-nominated breakout star of “Normal People.” He recently wrapped shooting on Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Daughter” opposite Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, Peter Sarsgaard and Jessie Buckley. He is repped by CAA, Curtis Brown and Public Eye Communications PR.

“I’m honored to have been cast alongside Melissa, an actor I greatly admire and it’s an incredible privilege to be working with Benjamin on his first feature, who has put together such an impressive creative team,” said Mescal.

Barrera is an up-and-coming actor who recently wrapped the Warner Bros. adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights.” Barrera is currently shooting “Scream 5.” She is repped by WME, Bridge Works Entertainment and Wolf Kasteler PR.

Barrera said she looked forward to showing a “different side to Carmen.” “Benjamin’s unique style and creative vision to reimagine this classic we all know and love hooked me from day one,” said Barrera.

“Carmen” will also star Spanish actor Rossy de Palma, who is famous for her roles in many Pedro Almodovar movies.

Speaking of his key cast, Millepied said “Melissa is so intelligent and intuitive, both as an actor and as a mover,” and “Paul has so much nuance and consideration in his work,” while Rossy “brings so much idiosyncrasy and humanity to each of her roles.”

Rassam, who is one France’s top producers, has been developing the movie with Millepied for over two years. The producer said he and his partners opted to shoot the movie in Australia because it has, so far, only been mildly impacted by the pandemic.

“We are thrilled to see [‘Carmen’] coming to life in the best possible way with Melissa and Paul, two exceptionally talented performers, and the incredible support of Rosemary, her company Goalpost, our amazing cast and crew and the formidable Australian cinema Industry,” said Rassam.

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