Funnyman Sacha Baron Cohen is set to play a ruthless leader inspired by late Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in new comedy The Dictator.
The Borat creator has signed up to play the tyrannic former president in a film based on a romantic novel, thought to be written by the dictator in 2000.
Zabibah and the King, which was released in Iraq under the late leader's supposed pseudonym The Author, told the story of a king who falls in love with a married commoner. It was a bestseller.
Baron Cohen is planning to bring a touch of humor to the much-hated politician's tale in a film Paramount Pictures describes as "the heroic story of a dictator who risked his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed."
Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm writers Jeff Schaffer and David Mandel will pen the script.
The movie is set for a spring 2012 release.