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Ewan McGregor is heading towards the stars again.
The Star Wars, Trainspotting and Halston actor is set to play famed British mountaineer George Mallory in adventure thriller Everest from The Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow director Doug Liman and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Sheldon Turner (Up In the Air). Sam Heughan (Outlander, The Spy Who Dumped Me, Bloodshot) and Mark Strong (1917, Cruella) will also star.
The feature — which HanWay films will be introducing to buyers at the upcoming Cannes Virtual Market, with UTA handling U.S. — is inspired by the novel Paths of Glory by bestselling English author Jeffrey Archer, and is set in 1921, when Mount Everest remained the very last great unconquered challenge on earth.
Many have sacrificed their sanity and often their lives in the attempt to reach its fabled summit. Mallory (McGregor) was picked by the arrogant Arthur Hinks (Strong) of the Royal Geographic Society to scale the impossible. Following WWI, the fading British empire is desperate for a restorative victory, but for Mallory and his rival, the eccentric Aussie George Finch (Heughan), the challenge of Everest has nothing to do with patriotism, instead it is a singular test of self.
Climbing without oxygen, to heights not even planes can reach, Mallory‘s successive attempts to make the summit sees a challenge become an all-consuming obsession. It leads him to abandon his beloved wife and three children for months on end, give up his job, and push his body to the limits of human endurance. Everest becomes a very real monster for Mallory, his 45 degree climb to the peak is an inhuman mix of vertigo and nerve-shredding tension, requiring all of his fearlessness and audacity. It takes everything from him for reasons he can barely articulate: because it’s grander than him, it’s the last empty part of the map, and as he simply puts it — “because it’s there.”
Everest will star shooting in the U.K. and Italy in January 2022 and is produced by Jennifer Klein (Pearl Harbor) together with Liman, a self-professed “climbing nut.” Production leads include award-winning cinematographer Martin Ruhe (Midnight Sky, The American), Oscar-winning composer and celebrated musician T Bone Burnett (Crazy Heart, Cold Mountain, True Detective) and production designer Oliver Scholl (Venom, Spiderman: Homecoming).
“We are thrilled to be working with HanWay Films in telling this important and timeless story,” said Klein. “Bringing Everest to screen is more relevant now than ever. In this period of uncertainty, a story of true determination, passion and positivity can help remind us of what we can overcome.”
HanWay Films managing director Gabrielle Stewart added: “Liman and McGregor are passionate adventurers both in life and filmmaking, and this film asks one of the great unresolved questions of the Everest story: was Mallory the first to make it to the top 30 years before Hillary? It would not surprise me if in the wake of this film, and as we approach the centenary of Mallory’s life-taking climb, this great mystery would lead us to one of great discovery.”
McGregor is represented by UTA, Narrative and Sloane Offer Weber & Dern; Heughan is represented by UTA, United Agents, Viewpoint and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller & Gellman. Strong is represented by WME. Archer is represented by Joel Gotler and Robert Benun.
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