Maria Valverde to star in 'Ali & Nino'

Spanish actress Maria Valverde

The Goya Award-winning actress who played Moses' wife Zipporah in Ridley Scott epic "Exodus: Gods and Kings" is primed for the lead female role in Middle Eastern literary adaptation "Ali & Nina."

The film is based on a 1937 historical romance by an anonymous author, known as Kurban Said, which charts the relationship as it grows across cultural and political divides in what became Azerbaijan.

Adam Bakri, who starred as the title character in 2013's high stakes romantic thriller "Omar," is to play the role of Ali opposite Maria Valverde's Nino.

BAFTA winner Asif Kapadia of motor racing documentary "Senna" and Indian fugitive tale "The Warrior" is in place to direct, while Christopher Hampton, writer on "Atonement," "Dangerous Liaisons," and "The Quiet American," adapts from the original text.

Valverde had previously co-starred in "Cracks" alongside Eva Green and Juno Temple, a 2009 film directed by Ridley Scott's daughter Jordan, and has prominent parts in 2015 drama "Broken Horses" (with Anton Yelchin) and 2016 action film "400 Boys."

"[Her] interpretation of Nino's character is moving, emotional and honest; it's very clear that she will be the beating heart of our movie," said director Asif Kapadia in a quote carried by Deadline.

Filming on the Kapadia and Hampton vision of "Ali and Nino" is scheduled to start in February.