Ben Schnetzer, who turned heads in a breakout performance along with Nick Jonas in the Sundance frat-hazing drama Goat, has signed on to star in The Grizzlies. Written by Emmy-winning screenwriters Moira Walley-Beckett (Breaking Bad) and Graham Yost (Justified), the indie drama is based on the true story of a high school teacher who moved to a town in the Canadian Arctic and started a lacrosse league. Producer-director Miranda de Pencier (Beginners) will make her directorial debut on the pic, which begins shooting in April.
Schnetzer will play Russ Sheppard, who arrived in the struggling Arctic community ravaged by alcoholism, abuse, and the highest suicide rate in North America. His league galvanized the town and sparked a change in the kids who transformed their lives for the better. Fitness entrepreneur and producer Jake Steinfeld, founder of Major League Lacrosse, held rights to Sheppard’s story and will executive produce with Frank Marshall.
The U.S.-born, UK-educated Schnetzer was a Deadline actor to watch in 2014 when he appeared in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight closing film, Pride. He was recently seen in The Riot Club and is in Duncan Jones’ upcoming Warcraft.
The Grizzlies is produced by De Pencier’s Northwood Entertainment with Pacific Northwest Pictures’ Zanne Devine and Damon D’Oliveira of Flimshow Inc. Local producers in the town of Iqaluit, Nunavut, where production will set up, include Stacey Aglok MacDonald and Alethea Arnaquq-Baril.