The star of Cadfael and I Claudius is due to begin work next week in London and Paris on the film, which is being produced by BBC Films and the British Film Institute and which is using some National Lottery funding.
The film will concentrate on the period of Bacon's life spanning the 1960s and 1970s, and will explore the artist's turbulent relationship with his lover George Dyer who killed himself on the eve of Bacon's triumphant Paris retrospective.
Malcolm McDowell, the star of Stanley Kubrick's film A Clockwork Orange, had originally been mooted for the part.
Also in the cast is Daniel Craig who will play as Dyer and Tilda Swinton as Muriel Belcher, who ran the Colony Room drinking club which Bacon loved so much.
Director John Maybury said yesterday: "Despite Bacon's controversial reputation for alcoholism, gambling and sado-masochism, my real interest is his great contribution to art and his disturbing and accurate portrayal of the 'howl of existence'."
Bacon, who died in 1992, was a Dublin-born artist. He was a realist who depicted the complexity of human emotions in a series of striking and often horrific paintings.Reuse content