Gerard Depardieu and Irrfan Khan join Life of Pi

It's been nearly a decade since Yann Martel's Booker Prize-winning Life of Pi began its long courtship with Hollywood, during which such upper-caste filmmakers as M. Night Shyamalan, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and Alfonso Cuaron flirted heavily with the project.  Now, the long-delayed adaptation finally seems to be headed toward consummation with director Ang Lee, who just cast two pivotal roles -- Gerard Depardieu as the chef and Irrfan Khan as the grown-up version of the title character who, as a young boy, spends 227 days stranded on a boat in the middle of the Pacific with a Bengal tiger.

This is particularly exciting news -- and not only because it means that Life of Pi will finally reach the big screen (in 3-D, no less). More importantly, these are two excellent international actors whose work we too seldom get to watch in big American studio films like this one. Legendary French thespian Depardieu recently starred as the nightclub owner opposite Marion Cotillard in "La Vie en Rose." However, much of Depardieu's best work was done in the '80s and '90s in French dramas like "Camille Claudel" and "Jean de Florette." Indian actor Irrfan Khan is probably most familiar to American moviegoers as the semi-sadistic police detective who's gradually won over by the guileless game-show Romeo in "Slumdog Millionaire." But, for my money, Khan gave his  most indelible performance in his first big stateside release, as Kal Penn's character's traditionalist father in Mira Nair's adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake.

Anyone else haunted by Khan's work in "The Namesake"? Anyone else as thrilled by the prospect of seeing an Ang Lee-directed adaptation of Life of Pi?

  • Soooo excited to see one of my favorite books interpreted by my favorite contemporary director. It will be great!

    • Rae Ann

      I second Beth's comment. I fell in love with the book - a random find quite possibly during one of my airport bookstore stops -and love Ang Lee's work.

      But I must say.. M. Night Shyamalan - upper-caste filmmaker? C'mon.. He's not anywhere near the caliber of Lee or Alfonso Cuaron... bah.. that's just silly.

  • jenn

    "upper-caste filmmakers" ?

  • wendi

    Finally! Let's hope the movie does the book justice. It is my favorite book!

  • This is the first I've heard of the film adaptation of "Life of Pi" and I'm over the moon! I absolutely adored the book and am really curious to see how it translate onto film. I really hope it works! Irrfan Khan is a brilliant actor and I agree, he was fantastic in "The Nakesake." Wow, I just made the connection that Irrfan Khan does a lot of movies based on novels... Anyway, I can't wait to see this film!

  • Irrfan Khan is an amazing actor. He was brilliant in the recent season of "In Treatment" on HBO. Love him in the namesake as well. One of the best working actors today!

  • tess

    The Life of Pi is a wonderful story and I hope the adaptation will meet the needs of such an amazing piece of work and do it justice. The actors, thus far make for an anticipated release of this film. Who will play the young Pi?

  • noone thrilled by Irrfan's work in 'Paan Singh Tomar'?

    It was an amazing performance by the actor.

  • Ashley

    I really enjoyed this book a lot; a requirement for school, at first I thought it was going to be awful but now it is one of my favorite books. I am really nervous with the idea of making this book into a movie though. All the books that I really enjoyed and they decided to make into movies were awful so I am definitely nervous but very excited!

  • dewey

    Good news! Tho' I must say I was most excited when Jeunet was supposedly on board a few years back. Lee is good as well.

  • Julie

    A wonderful story, have read it many times over and am always struck by the questions it poses. A rich and moving piece of literature, can only hope the film version doesn't water down the theme with overly dramatic action focus. Then again, really looking forward to tiger on the boat!

  • Yolanda

    Irrfan Khan was fantastic in The Namesake!

  • Kathleen

    One of my favorite books! I'm very excited! Great director and cast - but who is going to play the young Pi?

  • sabrina nelson

    I am so excited to see one of my favorite books come to the screen!

  • Terri Spanjer

    Just about the best book I have ever read - full of humour and wisdom, and challenging to one's pre-conceived notions and value system. I am now consequently not only a Christian but an aspiring Tibetan Monk!

  • Dustin Schwindt

    I'm scared to death about this film. If the tiger is CGI it will be awful and I'm also not too excited about the prospect of 3D since story often suffers at the hand of the technology. Still, Ang Lee is an incredible director and humanist and I trust him more than most artists with this material.

  • You're so right, Khan’s work in “The Namesake” was magnificent!

  • Best book ever!!

  • Wow! Loved the book. I am just as excited about this movie as my son is about Cars2.
    Wonder why it took a decade in the making?

  • This is fantastic news. I always hoped for a film adaptation. Though thought it might prove improbable. Though with today's technical advancements, it is certain to be the eye candy it deserves. Especially in 3-D. I wonder what the over/under is for shots high above the boat on the endless sea.

  • I honestly never thought about it being a movie. Of course, I don't really watch a lot of movies, (only really good ones if can help it). I wonder if the film will really move me the way the book did. Amazing news.

  • I agree about The Namesake. That was a fantastic movie that went too far under the radar. Excited about Pi movie, although I am a little sad Jeunet didn't pick it up.

  • Jose

    one of my favorite actor and loved the Name sake movie it was great