A director of contemporary comedies, Charles Shyer makes a genre leap into period costume drama with this lavish epic based on a controversial chapter of French history. Hilary Swank stars as Jeanne de la Motte Valois, a countess whose royal title has been stripped from her family by the crown in late 18th century. Determined to restore her good name and privilege, Jeanne schemes politically and sexually with a trio of co-conspirators that includes her gigolo lover, Retaux de Villette (Simon Baker), her husband, Nicolas (Adrien Brody), and a mysterious Italian count (Christopher Walken) to obtain a diamond necklace worth millions. Jeanne's cabal concocts a series of forged letters linking Marie Antoinette (Joely Richardson) and the stunning 2,800-carat jewelry to the debauched Cardinal Louis de Rohan (Jonathan Pryce), an act that could end up restoring rank to the Valois family or fanning the flames of growing revolutionary sentiments. The Affair of the Necklace (2001) co-stars Brian Cox as the narrator Minister Breteuil.