Jesse Eisenberg to play Marcel Marceau in French resistance tale

Jesse Eisenberg has been tapped to play legendary mime Marcel Marceau in "Resistance."

This won't be the usual artist biopic, however. The film will focus on Marceau's involvement in the French resistance when his country was occupied by the Nazis during World War II.

The film's backers compare it to "Life Is Beautiful," the 1999 Oscar-winner about a man using comedy to help his son cope with the Holocaust. In a similar vein, Marceau learned to mime to survive and to save the lives of Jewish orphans whose parents had just been killed by the Nazis. Before taking on his stage persona of Bip the Clown, he was born Marcel Mangel to a kosher butcher from Strasbourg. His father was eventually killed in Auschwitz.

Marceau gave his first major performance to 3,000 American troops of General Patton's army after the liberation of Paris in August 1944. He went on to perform for six more decades, winning an Emmy and numerous other honors. He was made Grand Officier de la Légion d'Honneur (1998) and was awarded the National Order of Merit (1998) in France for his work in the resistance.

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MIAMI BEACH, FL - MARCH 23: Jesse Eisenberg at the 'Rio 2' Press Conference at the Fontainebleau Hotel on March 23, 2014 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Vera Anderson/WireImage)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 29: Jesse Eisenberg seen arriving at the BBC Radio 1 Studios on July 29, 2014 in London, England. Photo by Alex Huckle/GC Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 17: Actor Jesse Eisenberg attends 'The Double' premiere at The Marc Theatre during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival on January 17, 2014 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images for Sundance Film Festival)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 08: Jesse Eisenberg poses in the winners room at the EE British Academy Film Awards at The Royal Opera House on February 8, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 17: Actor Jesse Eisenberg attends 'The Double' premiere party during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival on January 17, 2014 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Kim Raff/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 17: Actor Jesse Eisenberg attends 'The Double' premiere at The Marc Theatre during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival on January 17, 2014 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images for Sundance Film Festival)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 12: Jesse Eisenberg attends a screening of 'The Double' during the 57th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon West End on October 12, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 07: Actor Jesse Eisenberg arrives at the 'The Double' premiere at the Winter Garden Theatre on September 7, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Mike Windle/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 07: Actor Jesse Eisenberg arrives to the premiere of 'The Double' during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at Winter Garden Theatre on September 7, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 07: Actor Jesse Eisenberg arrives to the premiere of 'The Double' during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at Winter Garden Theatre on September 7, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
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Jonathan Jakubowicz ("Hands of Stone") will direct and write the picture.

Eisenberg was nominated for an Oscar for his work in "The Social Network." His other credits include "The Squid and the Whale," "Now You See Me," "Cafe Society" and "Justice League." Many of these roles are on the dramatic end of the spectrum, but role of Marceau has some resonance for Eisenberg — his mother worked as a professional clown.

"Resistance" will be produced by Claudine Jakubowicz and Carlos Garcia de Paredes, who produced and put together the financing for "Hands of Stone." The film is being set as a European co-production. Baptiste Marceau, the mime's oldest son, has been closely involved in the research of the film and will serve as executive producer.

"Resistance" will shoot in early 2018. CAA is packaging and representing the film at the Cannes Film Festival.

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French actress Jeanne Balibar (L) and French director Mathieu Amalric pose as they arrive on May 18, 2017 for the screening of the film 'Barbara' at the 70th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France. / AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHE (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 18: Petra Nemcova attends the 'Loveless (Nelyubov)' screening during the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 18, 2017 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Venturelli/WireImage)
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CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 17: Jessica Chastain attends the Jury photocall during the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 17, 2017 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Tony Barson/FilmMagic)
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