La Vie en Rose star Marion Cotillard is to join Johnny Depp and Christian Bale in upcoming drama Public Enemies, reports claim.

The Oscar nominee is to play Billie Frechette, girlfriend of infamous criminal John Dillinger (Depp), in the crime thriller set in the Depression era.

Michael Mann begins shooting the movie Chicago on March 10th, with much of the cast able to join the project thanks to postponements induced by the writers' strike.

Cotillard was to shoot Rob Marshall's now-delayed musical Nine with Javier Bardem, Sophia Loren and Penelope Cruz while the deferment of Shantaram, Mira Nair's adaptation of Gregory David Roberts' novel, has allowed Depp to step into Dillinger's lawless loafers.

The remainder of Dillinger's bank-robbing gang has now been cast, with Channing Tatum to play Pretty Boy Floyd, following his reported casting in the lead of Stephen Sommers' upcoming GI Joe.

Giovanni Ribisi is to play Alvin Karpis, Jason Clarke will star as John 'Red' Hamilton and Stephen Dorff is close to a deal to play Homer van Meter, according to Variety.

Up against Dillinger's criminal gang is Bale's Melvin Purvis, the FBI agent recruited by J Edgar Hoover to head the manhunt for Dillinger, culminating in the gunning down of the gangster outside the Chicago's Biograph Theatre in 1934.

FBI director Hoover became obsessed with catching Dillinger, at one point spending a third of the entire bureau budget on hunting the thief down.

Rumours have persisted since Dillinger's death in July 1934 – after brothel owner Ana Cumpanas wore an orange dress during a cinema visit to alert nearby FBI agents to the presence of Dillinger – that he would routinely make prank telephone calls to Hoover as well as sending the bureau chief Christmas cards.

28/01/2008 10:39:52