By Chris Nashawaty
Updated March 24, 2009 at 11:29 PM EDT

Anthony Hopkins is about to start growing a paunch and snowy white beard. EW has confirmed that the Silence of the Lambs star will play Ernest Hemingway in an indie titled Hemingway & Fuentes, to be produced and directed by Andy Garcia. The Hollywood Reporter’s Risky Biz Blog first reported that the actor was loosely attached to the project.

Garcia, who also co-wrote the script with Hemingway’s niece, author Hilary Hemingway, will costar in the film as well, playing the real life fishing-boat captain Gregorio Fuentes, who befriended Papa Hemingway in the last decade of the alpha-male writer’s life. Fuentes was said to be the model for one of Hemingway’s most enduring literary creations: the grizzled fisherman Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1952.

Garcia’s agent Clifford Stevens says that the project is now out to financiers and that it is a longtime “labor of love” for Garcia. “He’s been talking about it with me for 15 or 20 years,” says Stevens. Since Garcia was born in Cuba and considering the political situation in Fidel Castro’s island nation, Stevens considers it highly unlikely that the film will be shot there. Stevens added that Annette Benning could also join the film as Hemingway’s wife Mary Welsh, although that offer is still in the discussions phase.

addCredit(“Ernest Hemingway: FILES/AFP/Getty Images; Anthony Hopkins: Jeff Vespa/”)