With myriad adaptations, sequels and re-used ideas, it's pretty surprising to think that Charles Dickens' famous novel David Copperfield hasn't been on the big screen since George Cukor's 1935 version. All those years ago, W.C. Fields played Mr. Micawber, Copperfield's landlord who retains optimism as he slides towards financial ruin (a character who was modeled after Dickens' father). For the uninitiated, Copperfield is Dickens' mid-way novel, quite autobiographical and deals with the life of David from boyhood into manhood. Now the word coming from Variety is that Rowan Atkinson, aka Mr. Bean, is going to take over Fields' role in an upcoming feature adaptation.

The project is reteaming Atkinson with Peter Howitt, who directed the actor in 2003's Johnny English. (His freshman feature was Gwyneth Paltrow's Sliding Doors.) Howitt cowrote the script with Douglas McFerran, who previously collaborated with the director on Doors and Laws of Attraction. Producing partner Richard Johns says, "This is a very fresh adaptation of the novel, not the chocolate boxy, stolid version of Dickens that we are used to. It won't be mannered or reverential. With Dickens, the filmmakers have been trapped in this place where you have caricatured characters, but Peter wants to deal with them like real people." Does this mean that it won't be a period piece, but an modern retelling? It could be, since the director has never done a period piece before. The $30 million film is scheduled to begin shooting early next year, so we'll get more word at some point.