Sean Penn and Twilight's Robert Pattinson are expected to join with Reese Witherspoon to star in Water for Elephants, the film adaptation of Sara Gruen's best-selling novel.
Set during the Great Depression, the romantic story follows college veterinary student (Pattinson), who joins a second-rate circus to work as a vet for the menagerie of animals, after a car crash kills both his parents. He falls for the star performer (Witherspoon), who is married to the abusive animal trainer (Penn) who runs the show.
Francis Lawrence ( I Am Legend) will direct the film. The production hopes to shoot in June, before filming begins for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn.
Penn has taken time off for personal matters. Witherspoon was the voice of Ginormica in Monsters vs. Aliens. Pattinson stars in Remember Me, with Emilie de Ravin ( Public Enemies) and Pierce Brosnan, due out in March.