Johnny Harris (Snow White and the Huntsman), Elias Koteas (Shutter Island), Goran Kostic (Taken), Olivia Williams (The Ghost) and Tom Cullen (Weekend) have joined the cast of Irish director Ruairi Robinson’s debut feature film ‘Last Days on Mars,’ which has began shooting in Jordan.
As previously reported on IFTN, Ireland’s Fantastic Films will co-produce the feature which will also star Liev Schreiber (Scream) and Romola Garai (Atonement).
British actress Sally Hawkins (Happy Go Lucky) had originally been attached to the project but has had to drop out due to personal commitments. She has been replaced by Williams.
Oscar nominee Robinson (Fifty Percent Grey) began principal photography on an eight-week shoot for the feature in Jordan last week. He is directing a script by Clive Dawson based on Sydney J. Bounds’ short story. The Irish Film Board-funded feature will also shoot in Elstree Studios in London
Post-production and all visual effects on the feature will be carried out in Ireland, although producer for Fantastic Films John McDonnell has not yet announced which post-house or VFX studio will look after the feature.
A number of Irish crew will also work alongside Robinson on the project with Robbie Ryan (Fish Tank, Wuthering Heights) on-board as cinematographer. Ryan has recently just completed work on director Ken Loach’s ‘The Angels’ Share’. Last year he won the Outstanding Technical Contribution for Best Cinematography at the Venice Film Festival for his work on ‘Wuthering Heights.’
Universal Pictures will release the film in the UK and Ireland while Focus Features International is handling sales and distribution for all other territories and is currently selling the film at the Cannes market.
Fantastic Films will co-produce alongside London-based Qwerty Films. Michael Kuhn (Being John Malkovich) and Andrea Cornwell (The Scouting Book for Boys) are the producers with McDonnell and his Fantastic Films cohort Brendan McCarthy co-producing.
Michael Kuhn of Qwerty Films said he was delighted that he and Cornwell “were able to assemble a cast of such distinction for Ruairi’s debut film.” He added that the movie is “so keenly awaited from a promising director”.
Alison Thompson, co-president of Focus Features International added: “This brilliant cast and crew will bring exciting new director Ruairi’s vision to life and tackle the age old question of is there anything else out there? A topic which will resonate with buyers and audiences everywhere.”
The plot of ‘The Last Days of Mars’ tells of an astronaut crew on an exploratory mission to Mars who, on the eve of their return to Earth, discover colonies of bacteria living deep within the permafrost. But what should have been the discovery of the century rapidly turns to horror when one of the astronauts has a fatal accident.
Irish filmmaker Robinson was nominated for an Oscar in 2002 for his animated short ‘Fifty Percent Grey.’ He has since made a number of live-action shorts including ‘Silent City’ with Cillian Murphy and ‘Blinky’ with Max Records.
Other key members of Robinson’s production team on ‘Last Days Of Mars’ are Emmy award winning visual effects supervisor Adam McInnes (World War Z), editor Peter Lambert (Twilight: New Moon), production designer Jon Henson (The Awakening) and art directors Steven Lawrence (The Dark Knight) and Philip Elton (The Bourne Supremacy).