Roman Polanski’s ‘The Palace’ Adds ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Actor Oliver Masucci, Fanny Ardant (EXCLUSIVE)

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German actor Oliver Masucci and French star Fanny Ardant have joined the cast of Roman Polanski’s new movie “The Palace,” which will surely be a subject of controversy at the Cannes Film Festival where distribution rights are being sold.

The ensemble drama, which had already cast Mickey Rourke, will be headlined by Masucci, the German actor who appeared in “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” and the Netflix series “Dark,” and Ardant, the esteemed French star of “La Belle Epoque” and “8 Women.” Budgeted at €13 million ($13.9 million), the movie is currently shooting on location in Gstaad, Switzerland, and is being sold by Wild Bunch International, the powerhouse behind several movies competing at Cannes, notably Arnaud Desplechin’s “Brother and Sister,” Claire Denis’s “Stars at Noon” and the opening night film “Final Cut” from Michel Hazanavicius.

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The key crew includes Oscar-winning music composer Alexandre Desplat, along with Polanski’s regular cinematographer Pawel Edelman, who previously worked with Polanski on “An Officer and a Spy,” “The Pianist,” “Oliver Twist” and “The Ghost Writer,” as well as set designer Monica Sironi (“Volare”).

“The Palace” is produced by Luca Barbareschi at Eliseo Entertainment company, and co-produced by CAB Productions in Switzerland and Lucky Bob in Poland.

Penned by Polanski and Jerzy Skolimowski, the movie takes place at a palace in Gstaad on New Year’s Eve in 1999. Hotel guests coming from all over the world flock to the lavish dinner party but the celebrations take an unexpected turn.

Rourke faced a backlash after praising Polanski on Instagram with a still of himself from the set that was captioned, “Working with such a director I feel is a great privilege.”

Although Polanski is still considered a fugitive from the U.S., which he fled in 1978 after pleading guilty to the rape of a 13-year-old girl, and was expelled by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2018, he continues to get his movies financed in Europe and release them to critical acclaim. The fact that “The Palace” is being sold by Wild Bunch International, which ranks as Europe’s top sales banner based on its festival track record, underscores the fact that Polanski is still considered a bankable auteur. Industry sources said casting the film was “an ordeal” as many actors passed due to Polanski’s controversial profile.

Polanski’s 2019 film “An Officer and a Spy” competed at Venice and won the Silver Lion for best director, among other prizes. The movie also won three Cesar Awards in France, including best director, which sparked several walk-outs during the ceremony. Playtime sold the film in most major territories, except for the U.S. and the U.K.

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