Zac Efron.

Zac Efron will headline the cast of Anthony Hayes’ Gold, due to kick off in South Australia this month.

Hayes will direct from his own script, co-written with Polly Smyth, and will also star with Susie Porter.

The thriller follows two drifters travelling through the outback who tumble across the biggest gold nugget ever found.

They hatch a plan to protect and excavate their bounty. One man leaves to secure the necessary equipment, while the other man remains, enduring the harsh desert climate, preying wolves and intruders, and battling the creeping doubt that he has been abandoned to his own fate.

Efron has been living in Australia during the coronavirus pandemic. Originally Sam Worthington was attached in the role.

Hayes promises Gold will be “an exciting, gripping and timely tale about greed, humanity, who we are, what we’ve done to the world and where we are heading if we aren’t careful.”

“To have Zac Efron as my main man on this film is an absolute gift and to see what he is creating already is like nothing we’ve seen from him before. I can’t wait to deliver this bold, visceral and cinematic film to audiences all around the world.”

Producing are John and Michael Schwarz via their Deeper Water Films banner, alongside Hayes for Rogue Star Pictures. Altitude Films is handling worldwide sales, with plans to shop it at the upcoming American Film Market.

Michael Schwarz said: “Gold is a classic morality tale told in an excitingly modern fashion, and the creative symmetry between Anthony and Zac has everyone involved incredibly excited to bring this film to global audiences.”

In Australia, Gold will receive a theatrical release via Madman Entertainment before premiering as a Stan Original in 2021. The film was developed and financed via the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC).

Executive producers are Andrew Mann, Peter Touche, Simon Williams, Paul Wiegard, Will Clarke, Andy Mayson, Nick Forward and Mike Runagall, and the consultant producer is Shana Levine.

Shooting the film is DOP Ross Giardina, with other heads of department including editor Sean Lahiff, production designer Sam Hobbs and make up and prosthetics by Jennifer Lamphee.

Stan’s investment in Gold follows the announcement of its plan to ramp up to 30 local productions a year in the next five years. Other recently announced projects for the streamer include Eden, Bump, Dom and Adrian: 2020, After The Night, and A Sunburnt Christmas, the latter of which also shot in SA.

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