Actress Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) will star opposite James Franco in 20th Century Fox’s Planet of the Apes prequel, Rise of the Apes, a Fox rep confirmed to Pinto will play a primatologist named Caroline, while Franco is playing a scientist. Set in present-day San Francisco, Rise of the Apes depicts how mankind’s experimentation with genetic engineering ultimately results in a war between humans and intelligent apes. John Lithgow has also joined the cast and will play Franco’s father. Apes, which is being directed by Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist), is scheduled for release on June 24, 2011.

UPDATE: John Lithgow has also joined the Apes prequel. He’ll play Franco’s Alzheimer’s-stricken father, according to the Hollywood Reporter.