Eric Bana, Robert Connolly team up for ‘The Dry’

Eric Bana and Robert Connolly. (Photo: Rebecca Bana)

Eleven years since they first collaborated on Romulus, My Father, Eric Bana and Robert Connolly are teaming up again for The Dry, the feature film adaptation of Jane Harper’s bestselling novel.

Bana will play Aaron Falk, a federal cop who returns to his drought-ravaged hometown after an absence of 20 years to attend the funeral of his childhood friend Luke, whom the local police believe killed his wife and child before taking his own life.

Falk reluctantly agrees to investigate the crime to determine whether it was more than a murder-suicide, which opens an old wound — the death of teenager Ellie Deacon, who was a friend of Falk and Luke.

He begins to suspect these two crimes are connected but as he struggles to prove Luke’s innocence and his own he faces the community’s prejudice and pent-up rage.

Connolly co-wrote the screenplay with Harry Cripps and will direct for the producers, Made Up Stories’ Bruna Papandrea, Jodi Matterson and Steve Hutensky. Bana and Connolly will also serve as executive producers alongside Ricci Swart and Andrew Myer.

“Eric was my first choice: he is famous for deeply humanist roles,” says Connolly, who produced with John Maynard Romulus, My Father, which co-starred Bana, Franka Potente and Marton Csokas and was directed by Richard Roxburgh. “I look forward to telling Aaron’s story on a massive scale and with global reach.”

Bana said: “I am incredibly excited to be part of the team bringing this thrilling and evocative novel to life. I love the journey of Falk and can’t wait to bring him to life along with my dear friend Rob Connolly.”

Harper is thrilled with the casting, observing: “It is very important to me that the nature and depth of Falk shines through and I feel Eric will fully capture that. Robert has done an excellent job in writing a script that captures the essence and tone of the novel and its characters.”

Connolly is working on the casting of other roles with casting director Jane Norris. The Dry will shoot from February 25 – April 12 in Victoria, with funding from Screen Australia and Film Victoria. Roadshow Films will distribute in Australia/New Zealand.

It will be Bana’s first on-screen role in an Oz film since Romulus, My Father; he was among the voice cast of Adam Elliot’s animated comedy-drama Mary and Max in 2009.

Film Victoria estimates that production and post production will bring $8 million into the state, of which $1.2 million will be spent in regional Victoria. That will create 162 jobs for Victorian crew as well as engaging around 40 local businesses and service providers.

The star of Chopper, Star Trek and Lone Survivor is currently on screen in the Bravo series Dirty John, a drama adapted from Los Angeles Times articles and the podcast which centres on the toxic romance between Debra Newell (Connie Britton) and the charismatic John Meehan (Bana).

He served as an executive producer on Connolly’s Paper Planes. Connolly first worked with Papandrea as the consulting producer on Jonathan Teplitzky’s 2000 romantic comedy Better Than Sex, her first gig as a feature producer.