THE SOPRANOS star James Gandolfini has landed a top secret role in director Kathryn Bigelow's upcoming movie account of the hunt to find terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden.

According to Entertainment Weekly magazine, the actor will portray U.S. Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta in the much-anticipated film Zero Dark Thirty, which is set to hit cinemas in December (12).

Gandolfini joins Jessica Chastain, Kyle Chandler, Mark Strong, Lost's Harold Perrineau and Jennifer Ehle among others in the cast of the movie, which chronicles the search for the al-Qaeda leader following the 9/11 attacks on America and the special forces' raid on bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, which resulted in the terror mastermind's death in May, 2011.

Panetta allowed Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal access to information that led to the discovery of bin Laden's location. He testified before the Senate in June (12) that no classified information was leaked to them.