Jolie and son Maddox with Pearl and son Adam in 2005
Ronald Asadorian/Splash News
By Mary Green and Stephen M. Silverman
07/14/2006 at 08:00 AM EDT
Angelina Jolie will play Mariane Pearl, the widow of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, in a movie produced by Brad Pitt's Plan B production company, Pitt has confirmed to PEOPLE.
"The film will focus on the deep collaboration between people around the world in search of Daniel in 2002," Pitt tells PEOPLE. "We hope the film can increase understanding between people of all faiths and portray the story and the people involved as honestly as possible without anger or judgment."
Contrary to reports claiming that Pitt's ex, Jennifer Aniston, was earlier cast as Mariane Pearl, a rep for Pitt and Jolie tells PEOPLE, "Jennifer was never attached to that role. When the project was first brought to Plan B, Jen was a partner in the company at the time." Pitt has been developing the project with Mariane Pearl for two years.
The film will be adapted from Pearl's memoir, A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband Danny Pearl, which chronicles her experience after her husband was abducted by Islamic extremists in Pakistan in early 2002. A month later, his captors released a video depicting his murder.
Pearl, a French journalist, was pregnant when her husband was kidnapped and gave birth to their son Adam in May of that year.
"I am delighted that Angelina Jolie will be playing my role in the adaptation of my book," Pearl said in a statement released Thursday by Paramount Vintage. "I deeply admire her work and what she is committed to."
The film will start shooting in the fall. It is Jolie's first dramatic role since the May 27 birth of her daughter with Pitt, Shiloh Nouvel.
Earlier this week it was reported that Jolie will lend her voice to the DreamWorks animated feature Kung Fu Panda, in the role of Tigress, a martial arts teacher. The film, due next May, also stars Jack Black.