TIFF: Jonathan Rhys Meyers Joins 'Shambhala' (Exclusive)

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Carnaby is handling sales on the Himalayan survival drama, from newbie Aussie director Summer Nicks.

The Jonathan Rhys Meyers comeback has official begun.

The Irish heartthrob, arguably best-known for his starring role in TV's The Tudors, has a major role in Roland Emmerich's gay rights drama Stonewall, which debuts at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 18 and rolls out worldwide later this month, and is starring in upcoming cold war spy thriller Damascus Cover alongside John Hurt and Olivia Thirlby, which was shopped to buyers in Cannes. Now Meyers has landed another leading role, signing on to star in Shambhala, a survivalist drama set in the Himalayas.

The feature, set to begin shooting this fall, was written by emerging Australian filmmaker Summer Nicks, who will also direct.

Meyers will play the lone survivor of a plane crash in the Hindu Kush mountain range in Northern Pakistan. Hit with sudden amnesia, he must fight to stay alive and reach civilization in a remote, unfamiliar land.

Xeitgeist Entertainment Group, the Singapore/Australia-based banner behind Damascus Cover, is producing Shambhala on a $3.5 million budget.

“It’s a beautiful journey, a hero’s journey,” said Xeitgeist’s co-founder Mark Montgomery. “Our character has lost his memory, but is rescued by a brother and sister who live in this remote region.”

Joining Rhys Meyers will be Australian/Indian actress Pallavi Sharda, who recently shot Lion with Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman; and Homeland actor Akshay Kumar.

"We've got a really sensitive, intelligent actor in Rhys Meyers," Montgomery said. "With all the problems he's faced, what the press said about his troubles, we can definitely work with this guy. We're backing Jonathan."

Xeitgeist plans to shoot on location near the Himalayas as well as in Singapore.

“The locations are challenging, but really spectacular,” said Xeitgest CEO Joe Thomas. Shambhala is a provocative, moving story and we’re very excited to be putting it into production.”

Xeitgeist is also behind Matt Brown-directed biopic The Man Who Knew Infinity, starring Patel and Jeremy Irons, which will have its world premiere in Toronto Sept. 17. Together with Damascus Cover and Shambhala, this relatively new banner is amassing a a decent slate of titles.

"Every product that we do has some component of east and west," Montgomery said. "We're crossing talents from different continents and different cultures and putting them together to come up with something that we think is kind of unique."

Another focus for Xeitgeist — which also has TV projects in Australia — are historical biopics of individuals who had some major affect on humanity. "Great stories of people, forgotten in time, that are impacting the ways that we live today, that's what we're looking for," Montgomery said.

London-based Carnaby Sales & Distribution, which worked with Xeitgest on Damascus Cover, is handling international sales for Shambhala and will be introducing the project to buyers at TIFF.

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