EXCLUSIVE: Steve Buscemi is set to star in Andrew Haigh’s Lean On Pete. He will play the character of Del in the film, which has long been a passion project for Haigh, who will direct and write the tale of lost Americana. The film is an adaptation of Willy Vlautin’s acclaimed novel about 15-year-old Charley as he embarks on a perilous journey in search of his long-lost aunt and a possible home, his only companion the stolen racehorse Lean on Pete. The Bureau’s Tristan Goligher is producing. Film4 is co-financing.

Negotiations are ongoing for other cast members.

Haigh has emerged to become one of the UK’s most interesting filmmakers. His previous film 45 Years, about an aging couple — played by Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay — and their faltering relationship emerged as an awards-season dark horse last year with a best actress nomination for Rampling at the Academy Awards and a best British film nomination at the BAFTAs. The film also took home the best British/Irish film of the year at the London Film Critics’ Circle Awards along with Best Actor and Actress of the Year.

Haigh has also signed on to direct the Alexander McQueen biopic for producer Damian Jones and Pathe. Red hot playwright Chris Urch, whose latest play The Rolling Stone has just debuted in London to ecstatic reviews, is writing the project. That project will likely go after Haigh is done with Lean On Pete.

Buscemi most recently starred opposite Louis CK in the web series Horace And Pete. He is currently filming Armando Iannucci’s ensemble political satire The Death Of Stalin, and will star opposite Alec Baldwin, Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow in DreamWorks Animation’s The Boss Baby.

Buscemi is repped by Lee Stollman of Gotham Group and WME.