Nikki Barrett has begun the casting search for the supporting roles in Blackbird, a Hitchcockian thriller starring Cate Blanchett which is due to shoot in Sydney in January.

Blanchett will play Janet, who travels to Los Angeles for the funeral of her grandfather, a Hollywood visual effects artist who moonlighted for US special operations agencies.

The old man harboured dark secrets concerning the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which pose a threat to Janet.

David Mamet wrote the screenplay and will direct. Producer Andrew Mason has joined the creative team headed by French producer Saïd Ben Saïd, whose credits include Roman Polanski’s Carnage, Brian De Palma’s Passion and David Cronenberg’s upcoming Maps to the Stars.

The project was first unveiled in May by Variety, which quoted Ben Saïd as saying the film will shoot in Sydney, part financed by Australian tax breaks. Among the roles that Barrett is casting are Janet’s young son John, her grandfather’s former housekeeper and the octogenarian retired head of a Hollywood studio.

Blanchett is set to play a woman who wants to escape her loveless marriage but fears losing her daughter in director Todd Haynes’ Carol, a drama based on the novella The Price of Salt by The Talented Mr Ripley author Patricia Highsmith.

Rooney Mara will co-star in the film set in New York in the 1950s, according to, which said Icon has bought the Australian rights.

Mason is also producing The Water Diviner, a WW1 drama to be directed by Russell Crowe, for Hopscotch Features, in which he’s partnered with Troy Lum and John Collie. The saga of an Australian man who journeys to Turkey to search for his two sons who disappeared after the battle of Gallipoli, it’s scheduled to shoot in November.

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