Callan McAuliffe, Andy McPhee, Arthur Angel and John Orcsik have joined the cast of writer-director Matthew Holmes’ The Legend of Ben Hall, which started shooting on Sunday in regional Victoria.
The plot follow the last six turbulent months of the life of the notorious bushranger (newcomer Jack Martin), whose gang pulled off the largest gold heist in the British Empire, and the circumstances surrounding his controversial execution by police in 1865.
Martin played the character in Holmes’ Kickstarter-funded short film, footage from which is being incorporated in the feature. The cast includes Joanne Dobbin as his ex-wife Biddy, Adam Willson as Mick Coneley, who harboured Hall, Jamie Coffa and William Lee as fellow gang members, Angus Pilakui as an Aboriginal tracker, Jordan Fraser-Trumble as Inspector Davidson and Gregory Quinn as Sergeant Condell.
The LA-based McAuliffe (The Great Gatsby, Robot Overlords) and McPhee (Animal Kingdom, Sons of Anarchy) are playing members of the gang.
Angel (Red Dog, Van Diemen’s Land) is cattle station owner William Gibson, who knew Hall before he became an outlaw. Orcsik, who portrayed John Gilbert in ABC TV’s 1975 Ben Hall series opposite Jon Finch and John Castle, is gang sympathiser Tom Purcell.
The producers are Odin’s Eye Entertainment’s Michael Favelle and Russell Cunningham, Holmes and emerging Victorian producer Jessica Pearce.
Wolf Creek creator Greg Mclean is serving as executive producer and mentor to Holmes. “In essence my executive producing is simply backing talent and great ideas,” Mclean tells IF.
“Matthew Holmes is such a dynamic and complete filmmaker who's already assembled an incredible cast and crew to make his epic movie . Not only is it a fascinating true story of huge historical significance to our country, Matthew has crafted an exciting Western/action movie to appeal to audiences here and around the world.”
In Jon Wright’s sci-fi/adventure Robot Overlords McAuliffe appears alongside Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson. Favelle said, “He is an incredibly versatile performer with a depth of character that belies his age. Having worked alongside icons such as Sir Ben Kingsley and Samuel Jackson [in US indie drama Kite], it’s only a matter of time before he breaks through in a big way.”
Favelle, who is selling the international rights, introduced the project to potential buyers at Berlin’s European Film Market and at last week’s Filmart in Hong Kong.
“Responses to Matthew’s vision and this powerful true life story have proven to be universally appealing,” Favelle said. “I am confident it will have an equally strong critical and commercial reception."