Zoe Saldana cast in Simone biopic?

Zoe Saldana has reportedly been cast to star in a biopic of soul singing legend Nina Simone.

A film about the Feeling Good singer's life has been in the pipeline for several years based on Nina's 1992 autobiography I Put A Spell On You, with the project based at Ealing Studios in the UK.

Now Hollywood blog Itsonthegrid.com is reporting that Avatar actress Zoe is attached to star. It does not say if she will play the singer herself.

Mary J Blige has previously been linked to the role, along with David Oyelowo as Nina's assistant Clifton Henderson, and it was believed the film would focus on their relationship.

Mary said of the project in June: "It's in a holding pattern. I don't really have anything to tell you, except for that right now."

Nina originally planned a career as a classical pianist, but was denied a scholarship to Philadelphia's Curtis Institute Of Music because she was black.

Dubbed the high priestess of soul, she rose to fame as a jazz singer and became a prominent member of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. Her song To Be Young, Gifted And Black was an anthem of the movement.

The Sinnerman star stopped paying tax in the US as a protest against the Vietnam War, which made her an exile from the States in later life.

To avoid arrest, she settled in Barbados where she had a long relationship with its Prime Minister Errol Barrow. The singer also lived in Liberia, Switzerland and the Netherlands, and died in the South of France in 2003.