UK-based Australian actress Emma Hamilton and The Gods of Wheat Street’s Mark Coles Smith have joined the cast of Last Cab to Darwin, Jeremy Sims’ road movie drama about a man who is told he doesn’t have long to live and embarks on an epic drive from Broken Hill to Darwin to die on his own terms.

On his journey he discovers that before you can end your life you have to live it and to live it, you have to share it.

Shooting is due to start in Broken Hill in early May, with Greg Duffy and Lisa Duff producing and Michael Caton in the lead.

Reg Cribb (Bran Nue Dae, Last Train to Freo) and Jeremy Sims wrote the screenplay, which was inspired by the cases of Max Bell and Bob Dent. Bell was a terminally ill cab driver who drove 3,000 km from his home in Broken Hill to Darwin in the early 1990s in hopes of taking advantage of the Northern Territory's voluntary euthanasia laws. Dent was the first Australian to die from a legal, voluntary lethal injection in the Northern Territory in 1996.

Caton will play a character named Rex, a Broken Hill taxi driver. Ningali Lawford-Wolf (Bran Nue Day, Rabbit Proof Fence) has been cast as Polly, an Aboriginal woman who is Rex’s next door neighbour and occasional lover, a role written specifically for her. Jacki Weaver is set to play a doctor who ministers to Rex.

Hamilton, who played Queen Anne for two seasons of The Tudors and now works for the Royal Shakespeare Company at the National Theatre in London, will play an English backpacker who has given up nursing. After meeting Rex she is inspired to return to her profession.

Coles Smith will portray a young Aboriginal man from Oodnadatta, whose life has gone off the rails. He’s befriended by Rex and joins him on the journey.

Mark first worked with Sims on Beneath Hill 60. He appears in Sarah Spillane’s Around the Block and had a recurring role in Hard Rock Medical, a Canadian drama series which follows a diverse group of students as they embark on a four-year adventure in the most unusual medical school in the world; that series will air here on NITV.

Reg Cribb has been nominated twice for AFI awards for his screenplays for Bran Nue Dae and Last Train to Freo, the latter directed by Sims and produced by Duffy and Duff.

Icon Film Distribution is attached as the Australian distributor and the international rights will be handled by Paris-based Films Distribution and Berlin-based Films Boutique.

Ed Kuepper will write the soundtrack music, working with Mark Beckhaus and his team at Nylon Studios.

Steve Arnold (Disgrace) is the DP. Clayton Jauncey (Beneath Hill 60, Kill Me Three Times) is the production designer. Steve Andrews (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, The Bourne Legacy) is first AD and Marcus D’Arcy (I, Frankenstein, Tomorrow, When the War Began) will cut the film.

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  1. Can’t wait for this movie to come out next week. For the last 3 years I have driven on my own from Kurri Kurri, NSW (near Newcastle) to Katherine to do a term’s voluntary work there. In 2011 I drove from KK to Alice to join a tag-along tour. It isn’t the rocks or gorges that are so great as the wide open spaces that allow you to breathe and the people you meet, esp. those eking out a living in small regional towns or places where the only thing there is a roadhouse.

    I want to go on the journey with Rex next week.

  2. Saw this movie today. Loved it and can’t stop thinking about it. So wonderful to see such an Aussie movie with brilliant actors, particularly Michael Caton and Mark Coles Smith. Loved ALL of the characters, especially Rex’s pub mates. Give me this sort of movie any day over the likes of Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Australia’!! What a dud that was.

  3. This film is a first in more ways than one. It is the first in a very long time to present beautiful theatrical dignity, among the first to be based upon a beautifully conceived script with real characters and flowing natural dialogue, and the first Australian film I have seen since Malcolm, that told its story via the collaborative efforts of its script, its actors, its director, its cinematography, and all concerned.

    If only there were more directors like Jeremy Sims, directors who understand, seemingly in equal measure, the language of film, and the language of theatre.

    The story grabbed its audience even before the credits in the blackness before the fade-up, and held it in a grip, sometimes vice-like, sometimes gently supporting, sometimes securely cradled, until the very last frame and beyond.

    The settings the cinematography and the costuming were all of the highest standard; the story, which at first appears to be set as simple and straightforward,
    becomes increasingly complex and involving as it progresses, truly progressing and building, rather than simply meandering to its conclusion.

    The performances were, with very few exceptions, first rate, with notably fine performances from Emma Hamilton, Mark Coles Smith, Ningali Lawford-Wolf, whose character ranged from frightening to hilarious to heartbreaking, and all the support players. The bit part players ranged from good to adequate.

    I have left my comments regarding Michael Caton to last, not because I hold his work in any disregard, but because I expected less from him in the role, and was very pleasantly surprised, by his captivating and sustained performance.

    Mr Caton has been in the business for a very long time, his experience as a character player is legendary, but I have long been aware of his tendency to slightly overplay, particularly when the character stakes are high, yet here, to my very great delight, he was restrained and deeply attached to his character, ultimately giving a performance which thoroughly deserved all the accolades he has received.

    Last Cab to Darwin,
    More than a gem, it is a real masterpiece.

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