New faces join Blanchett, Mailman and Blair in Warwick Thornton’s ‘The New Boy’

Aswan Reid on the set of Warwick Thornton's 'The New Boy'. (Photo: Ben King)

Newcomer Aswan Reid will make his screen debut alongside Cate Blanchett, Deborah Mailman and Wayne Blair in Warwick Thornton’s The New Boy, which wraps this week in South Australia.

Set in the 1940s, Reid stars as a nine-year-old Aboriginal orphan boy who arrives in the dead of night at a remote monastery, run by a renegade nun (Blanchett), where his presence disturbs the delicately balanced world in this story of spiritual struggle and the cost of survival.

Other new faces in the cast include Shane Brady, Tyrique Brady, Laiken Woolmington, Kailem Miller, Kyle Miller, Tyzailin Roderick and Tyler Spencer.

Thornton is reported to have written the screenplay 20 years ago, prior to his 2009 Camera d’Or-winning debut feature, Samson and Delilah. He also serves as DOP.

The New Boy marks a return to film for the auteur, who most recently created See-Saw Films’ First Nations vampire series Firebite for AMC+ with Brendan Fletcher.

Producers include Dirty Films’ Blanchett, Andrew Upton, and co-producer Georgie Pym, Kath Shelper for Scarlett Pictures and Lorenzo De Maio of De Maio Entertainment. Coco Francini is the executive producer for Dirty Films alongside Packer of Longbridge Nominees.

Casting is by Anousha Zarkesh, with other heads of department including production designer Amy Baker, costume designer Heather Wallace and hair and make up by Jen Rossiter.

The film has received major production funding from Screen Australia’s First Nations department alongside Fremantle and Longbridge Nominees. Other backers include Screen NSW and the South Australian Film Corporation. 

De Maio said it was a joy to bring the partners together in order to take the film worldwide and support First Nations storytelling.

“Warwick Thornton has crafted a film with unique beauty and power, anchored by the incomparable Cate Blanchett, Deborah Mailman and Wayne Blair, alongside a cast of truly talented and inspiring young actors,” he said.

Screen Australia head of First Nations Angela Bates said the agency was proud to support a masterful filmmaker like Thornton and the cast and crew.

“With a subtle yet powerful script, The New Boy is a genre defying film that explores spirituality, culture and colonisation in a way we haven’t seen on screen before. I have no doubt it will resonate with audiences around the world,” she said.

Fremantle president of global drama Christian Vesper added: “The New Boy is a powerful story from the cinematic genius of Warwick Thornton, and we are honoured to collaborate with an outstanding group of actors and exceptional creatives to tell this compelling story. We all take this responsibility seriously and acknowledge that the power and success of The New Boy lies in the reclamation of Indigenous narratives and perspectives, where audiences from around the world can reflect and have meaningful conversations about the struggles for survival.”

Roadshow will handle distribution in ANZ. CAA Media Finance and UTA are handling sales for North America and The Veterans are managing rest of world.