By Simon de Bruyn
Australian actor Sam Worthington has been cast in the upcoming big budget Vietnam War film, The Battle of Long Tan, which Bruce Beresford is expected to direct after finishing work on Mao’s Last Dancer.
Martin Walsh, of Red Dune Films, has been developing a feature version of the story since 2004 after optioning The Battle of Long Tan As told By the Commanders to Bob Grandin published by Allen & Unwin that same year.
Worthington, who is currently starring alongside Christian Bale in Terminator Salvation now shooting in the US and recently completed a starring role in James Cameron’s Avatar, narrated an award-winning documentary on Long Tan produced by Walsh for the History Channel’s 40th anniversary of the battle in 2006.
“I believe Long Tan to be a very important story to tell. It’s a true tale that touched me so much, especially when I had the privilege of meeting the soldiers two years ago,” the actor said in a message to the film’s producers.
Walsh told INSIDEFILM that Beresford had collaborated with Justin Monjo to write an outstanding screenplay, which tells the story of one of the seminal battles of the Vietnam War for Australian and New Zealand troops.
“Bruce and Justin have captured all the drama of the battle and the extraordinary real life characters that fought in it, and have given us the tools we need to attract a dream ensemble cast and financing for our feature film,” he said.
Walsh said the Commanders at the Battle of Long Tan, whose story was told in the optioned book, are fully supportive of the film project.
Producing the film with Walsh is Charles Hannah, a US-based Australian with 14 feature film credits, including World’s Fastest Indian, which starred Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins. Brainstorm Media’s Meyer Shwarzstein is executive producing with Peter Wetherell, President of Magus Entertainment.
The producers said they aim to commence production by mid 2009, with Queensland as the most likely location for the Australian base in Nui Dat and the nearby rubber plantation where the battle took place.