By Simon Dang | The Playlist February 14, 2011 at 2:33AM
Veteran actor Al Pacino is set to portray the lead in "Masterpiece," a film by Deepa Mehta about renowned French artist Henri Matisse, often regarded as one of the greatest 20th century pioneers in painting and sculpture.
The story is based on actual events in Matisse's life and will follow the artist's relationship with Monique Bourgeois who was also the painter's model and muse. The project will mark a major step for helmer Mehta -- best known for her Elements trilogy: "Fire," "Earth" and "Water" -- whose last great venture in Hollywood was an adaptation of Carol Shields' "The Republic Of Love" starring Bruce Greenwood and Emilia Fox.
Twenty-one year-old Bourgeois was first sent to Matisse in 1942 as a temporary night nurse but soon found herself the subject of his art. She then moved to Vence to became a Dominican nun before running into Matisse there and inspiring him to paint the Chapel of the Rosary at Vence, which eventually become one of his masterpieces. Bourgeois eventually passed away in 2005 in a convent at Bidart on the French coast.
Mehta's pic is being backed by Escape Artist's Todd Black, Steve Tisch and Jason Blumenthal and is based on a script by Donald Martin. No word yet on what kind of production start date is being eyed but producers are set to begin the process of casting two female leads.
Pacino has been been fairly active in Hollywood lately: he recently won acclaim for his role as Dr. Jack Kervokian in the HBO film "You Don't Know Jack," featured in Dito Montiel's controversial Sundance film "Son Of No One" and recently pulled out of Nicholas Jacrecki's Wall-Street drama "Arbitrage." Meanwhile, just over the horizon, the actor is set to play music producer Phil Spector in a HBO film by David Mamet (though word on that project has been quiet of late) and -- perhaps most excitingly -- is set to team with Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci for "The Irishman." [Variety]