Kate Mara (Fantastic Four, House of Cards) has signed on to star as Iraq war hero Megan Leavey in an upcoming biopic directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite. Leavey, member of a marine K9 bomb sniffing unit, was teamed with an aggressive combat dog named Rex. The two formed a powerful bond and ultimately served two tours in Iraq together, completing more than 100 missions that saved many lives. In 2006, the pair were wounded in an explosion and upon recovery, Leavey received a purple heart and was discharged from the Marines. Rex however was kept on active duty, and Leavey spent the next 5 years waiting to adopt him. When Rex was scheduled instead to be euthanized, Leavey fought hard to save him; ultimately successful, she was able to care for Rex until his death at age 11 in 2012.

The film is the follow up to Cowperthwaite’s acclaimed documentary Blackfish, which chronicles the plight of captive orcas. She’ll direct from a script written by Pamela Gray (Conviction) with rewrites by Annie Mumolo (Joy), Tim Lovestedt, and Jordan Roberts (Big Hero 6). From Mickey Liddell’s LD Entertainment, the film is produced by Liddell (The Grey), Jennifer Monroe (Disconnect), and Pete Shilaimon (Anthropoid).  UTA is managing sales for North America. Filming begins in October 2015.

Mara currently stars as ‘Sue Storm’ in Fox’s Fantastic Four. She’ll next be seen in Captive alongside David Oyelowo, in director Ridley Scott’s The Martian alongside Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain, and in the psychological thriller Man Down, alongside Shia LaBeouf. She also recently wrapped the sci-fi thriller Morgan for director Luke Scott. She’s repped by UTA and Mosaic; Gabriela Cowperthwaite is repped by Verve Talent and Black Box Management.