Freida Pinto has signed on for "Rise of the Apes," the upcoming "Planet of the Apes" prequel, along with actor John Lithgow. According to Entertainment Weekly, the "Slumdog Millionaire" actress will play Caroline, a primatologist. The "3rd Rock From the Sun" star is slated to portray the father of James Franco, who leads the cast as an ambitious young scientist.

The news comes after buzz that Pinto and Oscar-nominated actor Don Cheadle had been offered roles. At press time, Cheadle's involvement in the movie had not been confirmed.

"Rise of the Apes" is set in present-day San Francisco, and the plot hinges on the consequences of genetic engineering experiments that result in highly intelligent apes jockeying for power with their human counterparts. Franco's character assumes a significant role in the subsequent war between man and brainy ape.

Pinto is best known for her role as a young woman navigating a life of extreme poverty in India's slums in the runaway 2008 hit "Slumdog Millionaire." Earlier this year it was announced that Pinto will also flex her acting chops in the upcoming Greek mythology epic "War of the Gods" opposite "The Tudors" actor Henry Cavill. Lithgow is a Hollywood vet who has appeared onscreen in the '80s flick "Harry and the Hendersons" and the animated franchise "Shrek." Lithgow snagged a Golden Globe earlier this year for his role as a serial killer on the hit Showtime series "Dexter."

Director Rupert Wyatt is set to helm the movie. "Rise of the Apes" is expected to start production on July 5 and is scheduled to hit theaters on June 24, 2011.

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