EXCLUSIVE: Liam Neeson has signed on to star in horse-training drama The Trainer, directed by Neil Jordan and written by David Donohue, James Villemaire and Sully scribe Todd Komarnicki. HanWay Films is launching the title to buyers at the American Film Market this week.

Red-hot actor Neeson, whose past collaborations with fellow Irishman Jordan include Michael Collins, will star as John Moore, a premier horse trainer in the west of Ireland who, beset by tragedy, loses everything he cherishes and almost forgets to live. Into his life comes a teenage refugee, Nadya, who has fled her own horrors and now finds herself in a confounding new world. Their only connection to themselves, and ultimately to their own hearts, is a horse called Allabelle, who is about to prove that they may all have one race left inside of them.

Arthur Lappin, Komarnicki, Robin Gurland and Gregory O’Connor produce the title, which has been developed with the support of the Irish Film Board.

“Liam Neeson is one of the world’s most beloved actors, thanks to unforgettable performances in films ranging from Schindler’s List to Love Actually, so we’re thrilled to have Liam return to Ireland with a character-driven film like The Trainer,” said Gabrielle Stewart, managing director of HanWay Films. “He and Neil are a great pairing and David Donohue’s, James Villemaire’s and Todd Komarnicki’s script provides us a beautiful and life-affirming story of a man learning to live again.”

Film is set to commence principal photography in Ireland next summer.

Neeson and Komarnicki are repped by CAA. Jordan is repped by Casarotto Ramsey & Associates and CAA.

CAA is arranging financing for the film and reps its domestic distribution rights.