When Sam Claflin had to drop out of Belle due to a date clash with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, it created an opportunity for another young actor. Sam Reid has taken over to play the lead role of John Daviner in Amma Assante’s Belle. The film tells the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a mixed race girl raised as an aristocratic lady in 18th Century and who fell in love with a man of high social standing (Reid). All of this happens in the backdrop of a legal case that helped end slavery in England. The film stars Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson, Sarah Gadon, Penelope Wilton, Tom Felton and James Norton. Shooting begins September 24 with Damian Jones producing and funding from the BFI Film Fund.

There is precedent for Reid following Claflin. The latter graduated as the star student of the prestigious LAMDA in 2009 and Reid did the same thing the following year. He was cast in Anonymous while still a student in his final year. Reid just finished filming The Railway Man, opposite Sellan Skarsgard, Jeremy Irvine, Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman. He also is in the Susanne Bier-directed Serena opposite Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence (sellers showed a promo reel yesterday here at Toronto) and he was in Hatfields & McCoys. Reid is repped by Luber Roklin, UK-based The Rights House and Australia-based RGM Artists Group.