Jacki Weaver.

Jacki Weaver is starring alongside Naomi Watts and The Walking Dead’s Andrew Lincoln in Penguin Bloom, the adaptation of Bradley Trevor Greive and Cameron Bloom’s novel directed by Glendyn Ivin.

Lincoln plays Cameron Bloom, the husband of Watt’s Sam Bloom in the drama based on the true story of a young Sydney family who struggle to come to terms with a near-fatal accident that left their mother paralyzed.

An unlikely ally enters their lives in the form of an injured Magpie chick, which the family dubbed ‘Penguin’ due to her black and white plumage.

Weaver portrays Jan, Sam’s mother. Newcomers Griffin Murray-Johnston, Felix Cameron and Abe Clifford-Barr, who were discovered in a nationwide search by casting directors Kirsty McGregor and Stevie Ray, play the Bloom’s children.

Rounding out the cast are Rachel House as Sam’s Kiwi kayak coach Gaye Hatfield, Leeanna Walsman as Sam’s sister Kylie and Lisa Hensley as her friend Bron.

“Having been a huge fan of Jacki’s for such a long time, it is beyond exciting to have her join our incredible cast to tell this heart-warming story,” Watts said.

The casting directors received more than 1,400 applications from kids and whittled down the list after holding workshops in Sydney and Melbourne.

“We were looking for boys who have the family’s outdoor spirit, have skills such as surfing, skateboarding and rock climbing, and have potential acting ability,” McGregor tells IF.

Josh Quong Tart is serving as the acting coach for Cameron and Murray-Johnston, who are both 10, and seven-year-old Clifford-Barr.

Scripted by Shaun Grant and Harry Cripps and produced by Watts, Emma Cooper and Made Up Stories’ Bruna Papandrea, Jodi Matterson and Steve Hutensky, the production starts shooting in Sydney tomorrow.

Screen Australia provided major production investment with support from Create NSW. Roadshow will distribute in Australasia and Endeavor Content is handling worldwide sales.

Weaver’s latest credits include Mark Lamprell’s geezer comedy Never Too Late, the Epix/Stan series Perpetual Grace, LTD with Damon Herriman, Thom Fitzgerald’s dramedy Stage Mother and Matchbox Pictures’ Secret City: Under the Eagle.

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