EXCLUSIVE: Saoirse Ronan, Paul Mescal and LaKeith Stanfield will star in Foe, an adaptation of the Iain Reid bestselling science fiction novel. Lion helmer Garth Davis will direct a script he wrote with the author and filming will get underway in January in Australia. Pic takes shape as a hot title in the upcoming Cannes Virtual Market, with FilmNation brokering international rights and CAA Media Finance and UTA’s Independent Film Group co-repping domestic rights.
“I’ve been on the hunt to do something in sci-fi, it was always on my bucket list, and also to find material I could make an actor’s piece with a Cassavetian level of performance,” Davis told Deadline. “I read Foe and could not put it down. It’s incredibly suspenseful, very moving and dealt with sci-fi in a most grounded way that spoke to where we are heading as a society, with a lot of the questions we all have, explored in a profound way. And the love story just broke my heart, this story of self-determination, fighting for the things that are most precious in our lives, and reminding audiences that this time we have here is precious and the way we treat each other is the way we need to be treating the planet. Foe was just a bull’s-eye, for me.”
The film is a taut, sensual, psychological mind-bender set in the near future where corporate power and environmental decay are ravaging the planet. Junior (Mescal) and Hen (Ronan) are a young couple married seven years and living a solitary life on their isolated farm. One night, a stranger named Terrance (Stanfield) knocks on their door, bringing news that throws their lives into turmoil: Junior has been randomly selected to travel to a large, experimental space station orbiting Earth. The most unusual part? Arrangements have already been made so that when he leaves, Hen won’t have a chance to miss him, because she won’t be left alone—not even for a moment. Hen will have familiar company that pushes her to make a life-changing decision.
Producers are Kerry Kohansky-Roberts of Anonymous Content, Davis through his I Am That shingle, and See-Saw Films’ Emile Sherman and Iain Canning. Reid and Samantha Lang are the executive producers and the film is an Anonymous Content Studios production.
The film has a tech element, something Davis used to great success in Lion with a protagonist who used Google Earth to find his birth mother in India in a film that got six Oscar noms including Best Picture and became one of the highest-grossing Australian films ever. Like Lion, the tech will serve what at heart is a human story. Davis said key to that was his cast.
“The point of the movie is that corporate power and environmental decay is literally eating away at the natural world, not just the environment but from a human point of view, it’s eating away at society and taking away why we’re meant to be here and what connects us,” Davis said. “We’re losing our self-determination and vibrancy. What I love about Saoirse is, you see her on screen and she is just so unfiltered and alive. She represents to me all the things we need to protect in the world. Putting her in the belly of this suspenseful and uneasy story is the whole point. What she represents is precious, she’s an empath. She fights for the things we all should be fighting for. I was looking for an actress who just had those qualities, and that beauty.
“Paul Mescal, he is just a normal guy and you believe he’s married to her and that they come from the same part of the world, which they do in reality. I buy them as a rural couple. Then we have Terrance, who arrives in the middle of the night. It was really important to get him right. LaKeith is for me unbelievably exciting. Terrance is the conductor of the narrative, the one coming into their lives and changing them forever. How do we do that in a way that is not overtly sinister or calculating? LaKeith has this beautiful charm. You’d want to let him in the door and you’d want to know him, but as the story takes off, there is a mystery, a vulnerability. He embodies all that stuff in his eyes. When I spoke to him, he was very fascinated by our relationship with technology and eager to explore that in this story.”
Davis is repped by UTA; Reid by CAA and Transatlantic Agency; Ronan by CAA and Macfarlane Chard; Mescal by CAA and Curtis Brown; and Stanfield by CAA, Stark Management and Ginsburg Daniels.
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