The film concerns religious persecution in 17th century Japan and will begin filming in June 2014

Andrew Garfield is to star in the next film from Martin Scorsese.

The British actor has landed the lead role in Silence, Scorsese’s adaptation of a 1966 novel by late Japanese author Shusaku Endo, Variety has confirmed.

Garfield will play a Christian missionary who arrives in 17th century Japan in pursuit of his mentor – who has apparently abandoned the church – only to be confronted by widespread religious persecution. The Last Samurai‘s Ken Watanabe will co-star as his interpreter.

Silence is something of a passion project for Martin Scorsese, who first began drafting a script after reading Endo’s novel in 1988. Over the years, the director has had trouble drumming up funding due to the film’s religious subject matter, but financing is finally in place and filming will begin in June 2014.

Garfield is currently shooting The Amazing Spider-Man 2, due for release next May (2014). Meanwhile, Scorsese’s latest film The Wolf Of Wall Street is set to open in cinemas later this year (2013). A crime drama based on the memoir of crooked stockbroker Jordan Belfort, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Belfort and boasts a bumper cast including Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill and Joanna Lumley.