Gerard Depardieu has joined the cast of Ole Bornedal's I Am Dina, an English-language gothic romance that is one of the most expensive Scandinavian film productions ever.

The addition of the French actor, one of Europe's best paid stars, could further increase the $13m budget of the project, which is being principally financed by Northern Lights, the Norwegian subsidiary of Denmark's Nordisk Film.

Based on Herbjorg Wassmo's best-selling novel, the story is set in Norway circa 1840. It tells how a girl, traumatised after causing her mother's death, grows into a sensual woman who lives by her own rules.

Depardieu will take one of the key roles in the first part of the film as Dina's husband Jakob. He joins a cast including Maria Bonnevie (13thWarrior), Pernilla August (The Best Intentions), Hans Matheson (Les Miserables) and Mads Mikkelsen (Bleeder).

Shooting is to start on the northern Norwegian coast in March 2001, with Axel Helgeland producing along with Nordisk's Per Holst. The Norwegian Film Institute, Eurimages and Germany's Nordrhein-Westphalia Film Fund are also involved as co-financiers