Lee's unknown star for Life Of Pi
Ang Lee has cast an unknown actor with no experience to star in his 3D film adaptation of Life Of Pi.
Suraj Sharma, 17, is a student who lives with his mathematician parents in Delhi, India. He has no acting experience and was cast following a global search that lasted months, during which over 3000 young men auditioned for the part.
The director said: "It has been a daunting and exciting process to develop a motion picture that brings Yann Martel's fascinating, mind-boggling story to the big screen."
He added: "Casting the 16-year-old Pi was particularly challenging. We searched throughout India for a young man who had the innocence to capture our attention, the depth of character to break our hearts, and the physicality needed to embody Pi on his journey.
"Suraj is Pi. During his audition, he filled the room with emotion, much of which he conveyed simply through his eyes. His natural ability to believe and stay in the world of the story is a rare treasure."
The novel Life Of Pi won the Booker Prize in 2002 and went on to sell more than seven million copies worldwide.
It tells the story of an Indian boy, who survives 227 days while stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger following a shipwreck.
The film begins production in January in India and Taiwan and is due for release by 20th Century Fox on December 14, 2012.
Fox had put the film on hold because it was going to cost too much - a reported 70 million dollars - and The Sixth Sense director M Night Shyamalan and Amelie's Jean-Pierre Jeunet have previously abandoned the project.