By Brendan Swift

A high profile cast including Golden Globe Award-nominee Melissa George and Oscar-nominated Sophie Okonedo have been cast in the upcoming ABC series The Slap.

Australia's Tony Award-nominee Essie Davis (Australia, Girl With A Pearl Earring) will also star in the eight-part series alongside Jonathan LaPaglia (NCIS, Bones, Brothers and Sisters) in his first Australian role.

The Slap, based on Christos Tsiolkas’s best-selling novel, will begin filming on January 19, 2011 in Melbourne. Each of the one-hour episodes will be told from the perspective of one of the main characters.

The Slap traces the shattering repercussions of a single event on a group of family and friends after a man slaps a child, who is not his son, at an Australian backyard barbeque.

A team of four AFI Award and IF Award-winning directors – Jessica Hobbs (Love My Way, Answered by Fire); Matthew Saville (Noise, The King); Tony Ayres (Walking on Water, The Homesong Stories); and Robert Connolly (The Bank, Romulus, My Father) – will each direct two episodes.

The writing team includes Emily Ballou, Alice Bell (Suburban Mayhem), Brendan Cowell (Love My Way); Kris Mrksa (Underbelly series two and three) and Cate Shortland (Somersault).

“I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with the writers and the creative team involved in the adaptation of The Slap to television," Tsiolkas said  in a statement.

"Everyone involved is keen to keep true to the honesty and rawness of the book while at the same time making sure that what is created works as riveting and unexpected drama. That passion is exhilarating."

LaPaglia will play the role of Hector, Davis will play Anouk, Okonedo will play Aisha, while George will play Rosie.

LaPaglia, the younger brother of Anthony LaPaglia, got his first break on the TV show New York Undercover. LaPaglia has also appeared in episodes of Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Cold Case (2008-2009) and in the Woody Allen film Deconstructing Harry.

Okonedo has been nominated for numerous awards including an Oscar, Golden Globes, BAFTAs, Screen Actors Guild and MTV Awards. In 2010 she was nominated for a BAFTA for her portrayal of Winnie Mandela in the telemovie Mrs Mandela.

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