'Aladdin' star Marwan Kenzari to star in sci-fi thriller with Tessa Thompson

'Balestra' tells the story of a competitive fencer, who starts using a prototype device to help her practise in her sleep

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 21: Marwan Kenzari attends the premiere of Disney's "Aladdin" at El Capitan Theatre on May 21, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.   Kevin Winter/Getty Images/AFP

US actress Tessa Thompson arrives for the Los Angeles season three premiere of the HBO series "Westworld" at the TCL Chinese theatre in Hollywood on March 5, 2020.
Chris Delmas / AFP
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Tunisian-Dutch actor Marwan Kenzari – who shot to international stardom for his role as Jafar in the 2019 live-action remake of Aladdin – is now set to star in an upcoming sci-fi thriller with Westworld star Tessa Thomspon.

Entitled Balestra, the film tells the story of a competitive fencer (Thompson), who has fallen out of grace and is eager to make a comeback. She begins to rely on a prototype piece of technology that allows her to continue her training in her sleep.

The plot thickens as she meets Kenzari’s character in her lucid and lifelike dreams, getting caught in a subconscious web of desires and unfulfilled realities.

Thompson is billed as the executive producer of the film, which is currently in pre-production, while Canadian filmmaker Nicole Dorsey is set to direct. Dorsey has previously directed the 2019 drama Black Conflux, as well as Delta Venus.

The screenplay for Balestra was written by Imran Zaidi and based on an original story by US comic book writer Aron Eli Coleite.

"Like the sport that Balestra explores, the conception of this piece is sharp and riveting – its is a fascinating look at the price of winning, and what trouble dreams can become  when our sense of self worth, reality and identity are tethered too tightly to them," Tessa Thompson said in a statement.

“To embark on this journey, both in front of the lens and behind it, with Nicole Dorsey and this phenomenal team is a dream to me – a most beautiful one.”

Alongside his role in Aladdin, Kenzari has starred in films including The Mummy, Murder on the Orient Express and Instinct.

He is also set to star in upcoming film The Old Guard alongside Charlize Theron, slotted for release later this year.