Hilary Swank is set to star alongside her Oscar rival Imelda Staunton in high school drama FREEDOM WRITERS.

The double Oscar-winner piped VERA DRAKE star Staunton to the Best Actress Academy Award at this year's (05) ceremony, with her performance in Million Dollar Baby.

Swank will take the lead as an English teacher seeking to inspire a class of ethnically diverse students, and Staunton will appear as one of her colleagues.

R+B heart-throb Mario will also feature in the big screen adaptation of ERIN GRUWELL's novel.