Ron Howard’s F1 racing drama Rush opens in theaters everywhere this weekend, but the filmmaker is already knee-deep in production on his next film. It was announced today that filming is underway in the UK on Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea, which tells the story of the real life sea disaster of the whaleship Essex, a harrowing ordeal that inspired Herman Melvile’s Moby Dick. In 1819, the ship was rammed by an angry sperm whale in the South Pacific. The surviving crew drifted for 90 days in three tiny whaleboats and encountered disease, hunger, and eventually cannibalism.
We’ve already seen some set photos of Howard’s period-specific sets and ships, and there will likely be a frame story device in the pic since Ben Whishaw has been cast as Melville and Brendan Gleeson is poised to play an older version of Tom Holland’s character. Chris Hemsworth leads a cast that also includes Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy, and Jordi Molla. Hit the jump for the full press release, and click here to watch Steve’s recent interview with Howard.
Here’s the press release:
Production is now underway in the UK on the action adventure “Heart of the Sea.” Oscar® winner Ron Howard (“A Beautiful Mind”) directs from a script by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”) and Charles Leavitt (“Blood Diamond”), based on Nathaniel Philbrick’s best-selling novel about the dramatic true journey of the whaling ship Essex. The film is a co-production between COTT Productions and Enelmar Productions, A.I.E. for Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures.
“Heart of the Sea” stars Chris Hemsworth (Marvel’s “The Avengers,” upcoming “Rush”) as the vessel’s veteran first mate Owen Chase; Benjamin Walker (“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”) as its inexperienced Captain, George Pollard; Cillian Murphy (“The Dark Knight Rises”) as second mate Matthew Joy; and Ben Whishaw (“Skyfall”) as novelist Herman Melville, whose inquiries into the event 30 years later helped bring the story to light.
In the winter of 1820, the New England whaling ship Essex was assaulted by something no one could believe: a whale of mammoth size and will, and an almost human sense of vengeance. The real-life maritime disaster would inspire Melville’s Moby-Dick. But that told only half the story. “Heart of the Sea” reveals the encounter’s harrowing aftermath, as the ship’s surviving crew is pushed to their limits and forced to do the unthinkable to stay alive. Braving storms, starvation, panic and despair, the men will call into question their deepest beliefs, from the value of their lives to the morality of their trade, as their captain searches for direction on the open sea and his first mate still seeks to bring the great whale down.
The film also stars Tom Holland (“The Impossible”) as young seaman Tom Nickerson, and Brendan Gleeson (“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1”) as the same man, 30 years later. Spanish actor Jordi Mollà (“Riddick”) is the captain of another ship, the Archimedes, who tries to warn the Essex of what may lie ahead.
“Heart of the Sea” is produced by Paula Weinstein (“Blood Diamond”), Joe Roth (“Oz the Great and Powerful”), William Ward, Brian Grazer (“J. Edgar”) and Ron Howard. Serving as executive producers are Sarah Bradshaw, Palak Patel and Bruce Berman. William M. Connor is co-producer. The film is based on the novel In the Heart of the Sea, by Nathaniel Philbrick.
Production, which began September 10th, will shoot at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden in Herfordshire, UK, and on location in the Canary Islands.
“Heart of the Sea” is a Warner Bros. Pictures presentation, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, a COTT Productions-Enelmar Productions, A.I.E. co-production, a Roth Films/Spring Creek/Imagine Entertainment Production. The film will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.