The Book Thief on Film: Will Star Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson

When The First Tuesday Book Club asked Australians to vote for their favourite Aussie books of all time, Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief was ranked number two, beaten only by Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet.

The book has also been a smash-hit overseas, with five years on the New York Times bestseller lists. When the First Tuesday Book Club was taped, late last year, the book was still number three on the list - and had been there for 270 weeks.

‘I thought it was just wonderful,’ said Jennifer Byrne. ‘I totally loved it.’

It’s just been announced that the book will become a film, starring Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, and French-Canadian actress Sophie Nelisse in the title role.

This is Nelisse’s second film, and the her first English-speaking role. Her previous film, the comedy Monsieur Lazhar, was released in 2011 and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

From left: Emily Watson, Sophie Nelisse and Geoffrey Rush

From left: Emily Watson, Sophie Nelisse and Geoffrey Rush

The Book Thief centres on Liesel (Delisse), a spirited young girl who witnesses the horrors of Nazi Germany while in the care of foster parents (Rush and Watson). The girl arrives with a stolen book and begins collecting other tomes, learning to read while her stepparents harbor a Jewish refugee under the stairs.

Zusak’s parents were World War II migrants to Australia.

Downton Abbey director Brian Percival is rumoured to be directing.

The Book Thief is set to hit theatres on January 17, 2014. Production begins later this month in Berlin.

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