The Alchemist, the best-selling book by Paulo Coelho, is to be turned into a film.
By Anita Singh
Last Updated: 11:25PM BST 18 May 2009
Laurence Fishburne will direct, write and star in the £30 million production, which is being made by Harvey Weinstein.
The book has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and translated into 67 languages. Such is its enduring appeal, it is currently at number six on The New York Times bestseller list, 20 years after it was published.
It tells the story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who travels across the Egyptian desert in search of treasure, leading to an encounter with an alchemist who teaches him the meaning of life.
Weinstein unveiled details at the Cannes Film Festival and said it was a project dear to his heart.
He said: “It is a book I have been truly inspired by and I have agreed to personally produce it. The Alchemist is simple and spiritual, and the screenplay will reflect that.
“The book means so much to people on a spiritual level yet there is also a great love story in it. It is an incredibly moving, emotional story.
“I think this story will act as a bridge to the Middle East. In the Middle East, the book has been an overwhelming success.
“That is a world that we need to know more about and extend a bridge to. This movie could be a healer in that region, bringing the West and the East together, especially the Middle East.”
Fishburne will play the alchemist of the title and Weinstein said he was determined to cast Penelope Cruz after seeing her in Vicky Cristina Barcelona at the Cannes festival earlier this week.
“One way or another I’m finding a part for Penelope Cruz,” he said.
The project has been in gestation for over a decade and will mark the major directorial debut of Fishburne.