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May 19, 1:15 PM EDT

Eisenberg to play Marceau in Jakubowicz's 'Resistance'



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NEW YORK (AP) -- Jesse Eisenberg will play Marcel Marceau in "Resistance," a film written and directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz that focuses on the legendary mime's involvement in the French resistance during World War II.

"The story of Marceau and the resistance is one of the most striking secrets of World War II," Jakubowicz told the Associated Press on Friday in an email. "From the biggest horror rises the most elevated art to save the lives of orphan children. I knew I had to do even the impossible to tell this the very moment I heard of it."

The Venezuelan filmmaker, whose movie "Hands of Stone" premiered last year at the Cannes Film Festival, said he started doing research and writing the script last year, when he first spoke with Baptiste Marceau, the mime's oldest son, who will serve as an executive producer.

Shooting would begin early 2018 and Jakubowicz is already working with Eisenberg, whom he called "an acting genius." Coincidentally, the actor's mother also worked as a professional clown.

Marceau learned to mime to survive and save the lives of Jewish orphans whose parents were killed by the Nazis. His own father died in the Auschwitz concentration camp.

The "artist of silence" performed professionally worldwide for more than six decades. He was made Grand Officier de la Legion d'Honneur and was awarded the National Order of Merit in France for his work in the French resistance.

Like Marceau, both Eisenberg and Jakubowicz come from families of Polish Jews. The filmmaker says many of his relatives were killed during the war.

Jakubowicz's credits also include "Secuestro Express" and a recent novel, "Las Aventuras de Juan Planchard (The Adventures of Juan Planchard)," both about the sociopolitical situation in his native Venezuela.

Eisenberg has starred in films such as "The Social Network," as Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, and "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" and the upcoming "Justice League" as villain Lex Luthor.

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