George Mackay (Captain Fantastic, Pride) is set to play Ned Kelly in Justin Kurzel’s True History of the Kelly Gang, starring alongside Russell Crowe (Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, The Water Diviner), Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road, X-Men, Tolkien) and Essie Davis (The Babadook, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries).
Based on Peter Carey’s Booker Prize-winning novel, the film will kick off production in Victoria in March next year, and sees director Kurzel re-teamed with scribe Shaun Grant, with whom he worked on Snowtown.
Also set to star are Travis Fimmel (Vikings), Sean Keenan (Wake in Fright, Strangerland), Dacre Montgomery (Stranger Things), Harry Greenwood (Hacksaw Ridge, The Nightingale), Thomasin McKenzie (My Abandonment, The Changeover) and Earl Cave (Born to Kill).
In a statement, Kurzel said: “Peter Carey’s book The True History of the Kelly Gang always felt like the true spirit of Ned Kelly. Unsentimental, brutal, raw and visceral. His story is one of the great odysseys in history, and I feel excited to be bringing it to the screen with a fresh cinematic eye. This is a really unique and modern cast, and I am so proud to be working with such a talented ensemble of new faces and celebrated actors.”
Grant told IF earlier this year that he had some trepidation when producer Liz Watts approached him to write the screenplay, given Kelly’s iconic nature. “But the things that scare me are usually the ones I’m drawn to. And Justin and I have been looking to work together since Snowtown.”
Producing alongside Porchlight Film’s Watts are Daybreak Pictures’ Hal Vogel and Romulus Entertainment’s Brad Feinstein. Carey, Daybreak’s David Aukin, Porchlight’s Vincent Sheehan and Joseph F Ingrassia from Romulus will serve as EPs.
The film has been financed Romulus Entertainment, and received major production investment from Screen Australia, in association with Film Victoria and Film4.
Rocket Science will handle international sales. CAA, which arranged for the film’s financing, will represent the US rights, while Transmission Films will distribute in ANZ.