Australian stage director Benedict Andrews has performed quite the coup for his cinematic directorial debut, by recruiting two of the most sought after names currently working in film. Ben Mendelsohn has been steadily working within Hollywood for some time, but his most recent turn in the Netflix Original series Bloodline has drawn all the right attention to his extraordinary talent.
Likewise, Rooney Mara has been quietly building an impressive resume, culminating in her co-lead role in the upcoming Carol – for which she has already bagged Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival. These two compelling performers are about to tackle some difficult and challenging material together in the form of Blackbird.
The film is based on the award-winning, one-act, 90 minute play by David Harrower that debuted in 2005. This source material is partly inspired by the case of Toby Studebaker, who was convicted of sex offences in 2004 after grooming a pre-teen girl and taking her to Paris. Using these crimes as a starting point, Blackbird has predator and victim brought face-to-face many years later, as this excerpt from the press release explains.
“From a screenplay by playwright David Harrower, Blackbird will shoot for five weeks across the south of England.
“Rooney Mara (who most recently won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival for her role in Carol), will star opposite Ben Mendelsohn (Animal Kingdom, Starred Up) in an intense, unflinching examination of damaged love.
“In Blackbird, based on Harrower’s celebrated Olivier Award-winning play of the same name, Ray (Mendelsohn) is confronted with his past when the young and beautiful Una (Mara) arrives unannounced at his office. Fifteen years earlier, the two had an illicit affair, for which Ray was arrested and imprisoned. He has since built a new life for himself; she is looking for answers.
“Said director Benedict Andrews: ‘I am relishing the opportunity to bring this vital, highly charged story to the screen. David has written a beautiful, brutal script and I have two outstanding actors in the roles of Ray and Una. The fragility and extremities of human experience are central to my work – and Blackbird is no exception.'”
Principal photography is now underway, with Indira Varma and Tara Fitzgerald (both of Game Of Thrones) and Ben Mendelsohn’s Star Wars: Rogue One co-star Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler) in supporting roles – so we can probably expect to see Blackbird on the festival circuit next year.