Kate Mulvany. (Photo: Amelia Dowd)

Kate Mulvany and John Howard have joined the cast of The Merger, a comedy/drama which will star Damian Callinan.

Callinan has written the script based on his one-man show about a country football coach who hatches an unorthodox plan to rebuild the local football team by recruiting recently-settled asylum seekers.

Mulvany will play the mother of Neil, an inquisitive, mischievous nine-year-old who is mourning the death of his father.

Howard will portray the cantankerous former boss of the long-closed local steelworks who resents the presence of the asylum seekers.

Callinan is Troy Carrington, a former professional football player who returns to his country town after an abrupt end to his sporting career and is persuaded to coach the hapless local footy team, the Roosters.

Shooting is due to start in Wagga Wagga in October, produced by Anne Robinson and directed by Mark Grentell, the team behind the 2013 sleeper comedy Backyard Ashes.

Casting director Faith Martin and casting associate Caitlin Stanton are in the final stages of casting the role of Neil after putting out a call via the Australian Theatre for Young People. 

They are also looking for an actor in his mid-20s or early 30s to play an Afghan Hazara refugee who joins the team after spending years in detention on Nauru where he learned English by reading the biographies of AFL footballers. 

Earlier this year Mulvany won rave reviews for her performance as the title character in Bell Shakespeare’s production of Richard III. She will also be seen in Goalpost Pictures’ Fighting Season, a six-part drama for Foxtel which follows Australian soldiers returning from Afghanistan. 

Howard recently starred in Arenamedia’s The Warriors for ABC TV. 

The Merger received production funding from Screen Australia, Create NSW Regional Film Fund and a grant from the City of Wagga Wagga. 

Umbrella Entertainment will distribute in Australia and 108 Media is handling international sales.

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