Al Pacino is set to star in 'King Lear'.

The 78-year-old Hollywood icon might be revered for his performance as Michael Corleone in 'The Godfather' trilogy, but he will take on another of the industry's most coveted roles, as he's been cast as the titular monarch in the new film adaptation of the Shakespeare play.

'King Lear' is to be directed by Michael Radford - who received an Oscar nomination for his work on 'Il Postino' - with Barry Navidi producing, after the pair previously teamed up with Pacino for the critically acclaimed 2004 Shakespeare movie 'The Merchant of Venice'.

Radford told The Observer: ''Lear is the one that everyone aims for. Al has been toying with the idea for a long time. There's a difference between Shylock, who's only in five scenes, and Lear, who is in every scene, pretty much. It's enormous. I think [Pacino] would like to have that kind of kudos because he's a terrific actor.''

Shooting for 'King Lear' is expected to take place next autumn, and Navidi has described the production as ''very faithful'' to the original work.

He said: ''Before, we had the passion and the desire, but we never had a start date. We all have the energy to do [King Lear] now. We're creating, hopefully, an epic.

''Michael and Al are going to stick to the original poetry. But a lot is to do with the delivery and the visuals. How Michael combines it and makes it more accessible, it becomes naturalistic rather than forced.''

The film will be shot in the UK, and although Radford wants to remain true to the play, he's said he wants to make sure the setting is ''recognisable''.

He said: ''A lot of people think of 'Lear' classically as being in some sort of medieval world where people wear rough-hewn clothes. I want the world to be recognisable - not recognisable physically, but psychologically.''