Dustin Hoffman and Helen Hunt have been cast in Peter Greenaway's new film.

The pair are set to star in the British filmmaker's latest project which has started principal photography in Lucca, Italy.

The story is based on Greenaway's original script and centres on an intelligent man called Jacob whose last big adventure is planned to be his own death. He wants to pass away in elegant, sensible and tidy fashion and leave behind as few loose ends as possible.

Sofia Boutella, Giacomo Gianniotti, Jonno Davies and Laura Morante also have roles in the untitled picture – which marks Greenaway's first film since 2015.

The 82-year-old director said: "The theme of this film is highly relevant and topical in these times, where the end-of-life topic is headline news on a daily basis. As such, I am very excited to be working with such an array of extraordinary actors and crew and personal collaborators to bring this particular story to the big screen.

"With ironic provocation, the film is prepared to seriously ask if death is necessary, and if it is, should we not be available to decide where and when? And even how? If we truly are going to die, shouldn’t we be involved in the decision-making?"

Greenaway explained that Dustin's alter ego was named Jacob in reference to the Bible figure of the same name.

The filmmaker told Screen Daily: "He is playing the character of Jacob. If you know your bible, you know Jacob fought with the angels. In a curious autobiographical way, it is me fighting with the angels."

He explained that Morgan Freeman had been attached to star in the film but a change of producers meant he had to leave and led to the opportunity to get the 'Rain Man' star involved.

Greenaway said: "Yes, once upon a time, but we changed producers. The finance became richer and richer. It is quite an expensive movie and so now we are using the very, very exciting possibilities of working with Dustin Hoffman."