First announced last week Wednesday, John Boyega has been cast in a new BBC Two feature drama titled The Whale.
Said to be based on the the book, The Loss of the Ship Essex, Sunk by A Whale, here’s how it’s described:
In 1820, the Nantucket whaleship Essex, thousands of miles from home in the South Pacific, was rammed by an angry sperm whale. The Essex sank, leaving twenty crew members floating in three small boats for ninety days. The incident was the Titanic story of its day, and provided the inspiration for Melville’s Moby-Dick.
The 90 minute drama is set to begin shooting this month, or next, with Alrick Riley directing.
Boyega joins a cast that includes Charles Furness, Joe Armstrong, Jassa Ahluwalia, Adam Rayner and Jonas Armstrong.
And we can now also add David Gyasi to the starring cast. If you’re not familiar with that name (photo above)… a star of both stage and screen, he starred in the National Theatre production of War Horse, and also booked roles in Red Tails, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, and played a character named Autua, opposite Tom Hanks and Jim Sturgess, in the Wachowski/Tykwer adaptation of David Mitchell’s 2004 Booker Prize winning novel, Cloud Atlas. Most recently, Gyasi co-starred in the BBC2 drama series titled White Heat.
Jonas Armstrong leads the cast as First Mate Owen Chase with Rayner as Captain Pollard, Paul Kaye as Joy; Gyasi as Peterson and Armstrong as Lawrence. No word yet on who Boyega’s character will be – at least, his name.
Via BBC press release, shooting begins in Malta this week on what the company is calling an “action-packed narrative.”
It will follow the ill-fated voyage of The Essex through the eyes of the cabin boy Thomas Nickerson who, at 14, was the youngest member of the crew and one of only eight survivors of the shipwreck. Before he died in 1883, aged 78, Nickerson wrote a detailed account of his experiences which will form the basis of The Whale’s chronology, geography, characters, and main events; these are the same events that inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick. It follows Nickerson as, against all odds, he comes through the worst that nature throws at him, growing up fast in the process. He faces the destructive force of sea-storms, the power of whales, the brutal desolation of the sun and sea after the shipwreck, and finally the grim realities of dark deeds as his only means of survival.
While this is set to air on BBC in the UK, TVWise is reporting that the Discovery Channel is co-producing the movie, and will air it in the USA.