EW has learned that Ben Barnes, best known as the British Johnny Depp lookalike in Prince Caspian, has been cast as Hamlet in Ophelia, an independently financed retelling of the story of the tormented young Dane from the
perspective of his long-suffering girlfriend. Nevertheless, this may be the first time ever that an actor playing Hamlet doesn’t have the juiciest role in the production. That honor goes to relatively unknown English actress Juno Temple (Atonement and the upcoming Jack Black-Michael Cera comedy Year One), who will play a young woman slowly driven insane by an unavailable man.
Producers Daniel Bobker and Ehren Kruger (The Brothers Grimm and Skeleton Key) tapped first-time director Dawn Shadforth (best known for her cutting-edge music videos for Bjork and Oasis) to provide a dynamic, contemporary take on the classic characters, somewhat in the vein of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, minus the iambic pentameter dialogue. Because the filmmakers aren’t beholden to American studio financing, they were able to cast fresh faces and are hoping to tap into a market full of the same ardent teen moviegoers who flocked to see the star-crossed love birds in Twilight and Slumdog Millionaire. The production, which hasn’t been shopped to U.S. distributors yet, is aiming for an early-summer start date.