In his first leading role in a movie, Mr. Robot star Rami Malek will head up the cast of Sarah Adina Smith’s indie Buster’s Mal Heart.
The film, which is being financed by Gamechanger Films, also stars Kate Lyn Sheil (House of Cards), DJ Qualls (The Man in High Castle) and Toby Huss (Halt and Catch Fire).
The head-trippy mystery follows an eccentric mountain man (Malek) on the run from authorities who survives the winter by breaking into empty vacation homes. He’s haunted by a recurring dream of being lost at sea only to discover that the dream is real: He is one man in two bodies. This is the story of how he split in two.
Lin Shaye (Insidious), Lance Barber (The Comeback), Mark Kelly (Do-Deca Pentathalon), Bruce Bundy (The Hunger Games) and Teresa Yenque (The Affair) round out the cast.
Smith’s first film was the AFI Fest Audience Award Winner The Midnight Swim, a genre-bending mystery that went on to win top prizes at the Nashville Film Festival, Sun Valley Film Festival and Starz! Denver Film Festival. She also is the only female director to participate in the upcoming horror anthology film Holidays, headlined by Kevin Smith.
Gamechanger, Snowfort Pictures and Everything Is Everything are producing Buster’s Mal Heart. Jonako Donley, who teamed with Smith on Midnight Swim, will serve as a producer alongside Travis Stevens (Jodorowsky’s Dune). Mynette Louie, Julie Parker Benello, Dan Cogan, Geralyn Dreyfous, and Wendy Ettinger are executive producing.
Gamechanger — the company behind this year’s Independent Spirit Cassavetes award-winning comedy Land Ho! — exclusively finances narrative features directed by women. The company’s previous films include Karyn Kusama’s upcoming thriller The Invitation and So Yong Kim’s upcoming drama Lovesong.
Malek became one of the 2015’s biggest breakouts on TV thanks to his hit USA Network series Mr. Robot. Though he has appeared in supporting film roles in the past — including Need for Speed, Short Term 12 and the Night at the Museum movies — Buster’s Mal Heart marks his first foray into big-screen leading man. He is repped by WME, Brillstein Entertainment and Loeb & Loeb.
Smith is managed by Maggie Haskins and Evan Cavic of Principato-Young Entertainment.