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'Lara' Mercenary to Play Opera Phantom

07/30/2003 AT 04:02 PM EDT

Gerard Butler, the Scottish actor who currently can be seen as a former agent turned mercenary in "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider -- The Cradle of Life," has landed the plum title role of Erik in the upcoming movie adaptation of the long-running Andrew Lloyd Webber stage musical, "The Phantom of the Opera," reports the Associated Press.

Additionally, PEOPLE.com has learned that Minnie Driver and Alan Cumming -- a fellow Scot -- will also appear in the long-awaited movie, as the opera diva Carlotta and opera impresario Monsieur Andre, respectively. Emmy Rossum ("Mystic River") will reportedly play Christine, the Phantom's unrequited love interest.

The movie is to begin shooting in October and be directed by Joel Schumacher, whose last film was "Phone Booth" with Colin Farrell. Schumacher, a former New York store window dresser, began his Hollywood career doing the sets for the 1978 musical "The Wiz."

Butler has told reporters that when he read the "Phantom" script (the show, starring Michael Crawford as the Phantom, opened in London in 1987 and on Broadway in 1988, and is still running in both cities): "I was wiping the tears off. It really touched me in an incredible way. And then I met Joel the next day, we had a great meeting, and started doing some singing training.

"And then I had to go and sing for Andrew Lloyd Webber, which is a great experience, in his house."

Butler sang the hit song from the show, "The Music of the Night." Lloyd Webber clearly liked what he heard. Butler got the job.

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