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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 April, 2005, 07:45 GMT 08:45 UK
McKellen 'joins Da Vinci movie'
Sir Ian McKellen
Sir Ian McKellen is expected to play aristocrat Sir Leigh Teabing
British actors Sir Ian McKellen and Alfred Molina have signed up to appear in the film adaptation of the Da Vinci Code novel, according to a report.

The movie version of Dan Brown's best-selling book also stars Tom Hanks and French actress Audrey Tautou.

Hollywood paper Variety reported The Lord of the Rings star Sir Ian will play aristocrat Sir Leigh Teabing.

Spider-Man 2 actor Molina will play Bishop Aringarosa, head of the Opus Dei sect, it added.

Filming on The Da Vinci Code, which will be directed by Ron Howard, who made Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind, is due to start later this year.

Alfred Molina
Alfred Molina played Dr Otto Octavius in Spider-Man 2
The thriller mixes the worlds of art and religion and involves a conspiracy about the true nature of the Holy Grail.

The Louvre Museum, home of Da Vinci's Mona Lisa and scene of a gruesome murder at the beginning of the novel, has given permission for filming to take place there.

Hanks will play the lead role of Dr Robert Langdon in the thriller, while Tautou will play his sidekick, Sophie Neveu.

The book has sold more than 17 million copies around the world and become one of the publishing phenomenons of the last decade.

It has already spawned numerous spin-off industries relating to some of the locations featured in the book.

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