Kenneth Branagh will join the already stellar cast of the Ffr250m French mini-series Napoleon, an English-language co-production which unites seven countries and will start shooting May 21.

Produced by French big-budget TV drama specialist GMT Productions , previously responsible for Monte Cristo and Les Miserables, the four-part historical drama is co-produced with public broadcaster France 2 and Gerard Depardieu's DD Productions. Financial backing comes from the UK's Spice Factory, Germany's KirchMedia, Italy's RAI, Spain's Canal 5, Canada's Kekchi Films Productions and Hungary's MA Films.

Branagh, who will play Russian czar Alexandre, joins a cast already glittering with theatrical talent. Christian Clavier of Les Visiteurs fame plays the title role and is joined by John Malkovich as Napoleon's envoy Talleyrand, Isabella Rosselini (Napoleon's wife Josephine) and Depardieu (as the feared Fouche).

Directed by Canada's Yves Simoneau (director of Mother's Boys), the high-flying mini-series is expected to find a niche on the US market (a rare feat for a French TV production) like GMT's previous productions, the French-language Monte Cristo (starring Depardieu) broadcast in the US by Bravo and English-language Les Miserables (pre-bought by Fox Family Channel).