Frieda Pinto, John Lithgow to Witness ‘Rise of the Apes’

James Franco stars in 20th Century Fox's prequel, which Rupert Wyatt will direct

“Slumdog Millionaire” star Freida Pinto and Emmy winner John Lithgow are set to join James Franco in 20th Century Fox's “Rise of the Apes,” the studio has confirmed to TheWrap.

Pinto will play a primatologist named Caroline who helps Franco's driven scientist, while Lithgow will play Charles Rodman, Franco's father.

Rupert Wyatt (“The Escapist”) directs the prequel, which is set in present day San Francisco. The origin story deals with the aftermath of man's experiments with genetic engineering that lead to the development of intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy.

Don Cheadle was previously rumored to be joining the cast but nothing is official at this point.

Pinto recently wrapped Julian Schnabel's “Miral,” and is currently filming Tarsem Singh's “Immortals.” She will next be seen in Woody Allen's “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger.”

Lithgow is coming off a Golden Globe-winning performance as the Trinity killer in “Dexter.” He recently appeared in the romantic comedy “Leap Year.”

Fox is aiming for a June 24, 2011 release.