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Ralph Fiennes will play the lead in a new comedy film that sounds a lot like Shakespeare in Love, the film that catapulted his little brother into the spotlight.

Deadline reports the Harry Potter star will play the composer George Frideric Handel as he struggles to write “Messiah” in 18th-century London and Dublin, whereas Joseph Fiennes famously played William Shakespeare as a young actor and playwright.

The film is called Hallelujah!, the first hint that it won’t be a reverent and serious biopic. And sure enough, the synopsis calls it a “riotous” farce, as the “drink-sodden and cantankerous” Handel tries to kickstart his long-lost inspiration to compose.

The real-life actress Susannah Cibber becomes his muse, much as a cross-dressing Gwyneth Paltrow was Billy’s in Shakespeare in Love, but things aren’t smooth sailing as he tries to write the oratorio that will eventually become “Messiah” in the lead-up to its chaotic and spectacular first performance.

The rest of the cast is yet to be announced, but with characters like Handel’s “whip-smart valet”, King George II, and 18th-century actress Susannah, we’ve got a feeling it’ll be a corker.

Helming the film will be Chris Addison, the comedian and Thick of It actor who’s been making a name for himself as a director in recent years, after directing episodes of Veep and handling his first Hollywood movie with The Hustle, a Dirty Rotten Scoundrels remake that’s due out in June 2018.

Ralph has been busy directing too, this time on his Rudolf Nureyev biopic The White Crow. He’ll also voice Barry the tiger in the upcoming The Voyage of Doctor Doolittle starring Robert Downey Jr., before filming starts on Hallelujah! next year.

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By Kat Sommers
Kat is a freelance writer for Anglophenia.