Netflix’s ‘Boy Swallows Universe’: Travis Fimmel, Simon Baker & Phoebe Tonkin To Front Aussie Drama From Brouhaha Entertainment, Anonymous Content & Chapter One

Netflix’s series adaptation of Australian novel Boy Swallows Universe has unveiled its cast, and first images from the shoot have been released.

Travis Fimmel (Vikings, Warcraft, Raised by Wolves), Simon Baker (The Mentalist, Breath) and Phoebe Tonkin (Babylon, Kid Snow, Westworld) topline an ensemble cast for the eight-part limited series, which is based on Trent Dalton’s book and is now in production in Brisbane, Australia.

Deadline first revealed news of the project in May 2019, and Netflix boarded it earlier this year.

2022 Netflix Pilot & Series Orders

The book, set in the violent working-class suburban fringe of Brisbane in 1983, follows Eli Bell, an articulate 12-year-old boy, and his mute brother Gus. A synopsis for the novel reads: “Eli Bell’s life is complicated. His father is lost, his mother is in jail and his stepdad is a heroin dealer. The most steadfast adult in Eli’s life is Slim — a notorious felon and national record-holder for successful prison escapes — who watches over Eli and August, Eli’s silent genius of an older brother… A story of brotherhood, true love, family, and the most unlikely of friendships, Boy Swallows Universe is the tale of an adolescent boy on the cusp of discovering the man he will be.”

Felix Cameron (Penguin Bloom) will play the young Eli, and Lee Tiger Halley (The Heights, Featherweight) will appear as Gus Bell. Fimmel will play their violent stepfather Lyle Orlik, Baker will be absent father Robert Bell, and Tonkin will play the mother Frances Bell. Bryan Brown (Cocktail, Breaker Morant), Anthony La Paglia (Nitram, Without a Trace) and Sophie Wilde (You Don’t Know Me, The F*ck It Bucket will play other characters central to the boys’ lives, with Christopher James Baker (True Detective, Ozark), HaiHa Le (Hungry Ghost, Back to the Rafters), Deborah Mailman (Total Control, Mystery Road), Ben O’Toole (Hacksaw Ridge, Detroit), Zachary Wan (Never Too Late, The Unlisted), Millie Donaldson and Eloise Rothfield also landing roles.

John Collee (Master and Commander, Happy Feet, Hotel Mumbai) is adapting the novel for the small screen, with Australia’s Brouhaha Entertainment teaming with Anonymous Content and Chapter One, which counts Anonymous among its investors, to produce.

Executive producers are Joel Edgerton, Brouhaha’s Troy Lum and Andrew Mason, Sophie Gardiner for Chapter One, Anonymous Content’s Kerry Kohansky-Roberts, and Toby Bentley. Directors are Bharat Nalluri (Spooks, Hustle), Jocelyn Moorhouse (Proof, How to Make an American Quilt) and Kim Mordaunt (The Rocket, Fires). Director of photography is Shelly Farthing-Dawe, production designer is Michelle McGahey, costume designer is Kerry Thompson, hair and makeup designer is Angela Conte and casting director is Nikki Barrett.

The Queensland government has supported the production through Screen Queensland’s Production Attraction Strategy.