Julie Taymor is gathering a cast ranging from blue-blooded Oscar winners to up-and-comers for her big-screen adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest that, in a gender-defying twist, will see Helen Mirren reigning over the magical island.
Although the play centers on Prospero, an exiled duke-turned-sorcerer, Taymor -- who likes to take an experimental approach to her stage and film projects -- has rechristened the lead character Prospera so that Mirren can take on the role.
Mirren will be surrounded by Jeremy Irons, Djimon Hounsou, Russell Brand, Alfred Molina, Ben Wishaw and Felicity Jones. Geoffrey Rush is in negotiations to join the cast.
Shakespeare's play mixes romance with fraternal politics and the supernatural. As revised for the screen, it will center around Prospera, her daughter Miranda (Jones) and a shipwrecked crew full of Prospera's enemies.
The island's other inhabitants include Hounsou as the deformed slave Caliban and Wishaw as the airy spirit Ariel.
On the ship are rising comedy star Brand, playing Trinculo, a jester; Irons, as Alonso, the King of Naples; and Molina as the drunken butler Stephano. Rush would play Gonzalo, a royal adviser and old ally of Prospera's.