Ang Lee’s 3-D ‘Life Of Pi’ Casts Unknown Suraj Sharma As Its Young Protagonist

It’s been a year since Ang Lee first announced that he would be adapting the bestselling novel “Life of Pi” as his next big-screen project, and now there’s finally some forward movement to report. Lee has cast 17-year-old Suraj Sharma to play the film’s lead Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, and the Oscar-winning director has also revealed that the movie will be filmed in 3-D.

Sharma was one of 3,000 teenage boys who auditioned for the role of Pi, and his lack of acting experience (he’s acted just once, in a school play) did not detract from his amazing audition. “He read one complex scene, and by the end he was crying,” Lee told USA Today. “We all were.”

That’s really all the confirmation we need for Sharma’s acting ability, but we’re a bit more concerned about how Lee will portray the Bengal tiger, hyena, zebra and orangutan. Lee was awarded a good-sized budget from Fox, but it’s unclear whether he’ll use real animals (hopefully) or have to create them using CGI. Considering a majority of the film is spent alone with Pi and the tiger, Richard Parker, we hope they can find a really great acting tiger (a.k.a. one that won’t eat Sharma).

Last October, Lee said that he had “cracked the structure of the movie” but didn’t know how he was going to film it yet. When speaking with USA Today, he said 3-D was his solution. “It’s expensive to shoot in 3-D, I know it’s a great burden on me, but the story kept haunting me, and 3-D was the way for me to crack the book,” he said. So does that imply CGI animals? Not necessarily; it means you might be getting sea sick. “The ocean is perfect for 3-D,” Lee said. “I think it will change the way people experience the sea.”

Fox plans to release the film in 2012.

Do you think “Life of Pi” will be better adapted in 3-D? Are you glad Lee cast an unknown actor as Pi? Tell us in the comments!