'Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt?' Starts Production With New Cast (Exclusive)

Atlas Shrugged Still - H 2014
Elisabeth Caren

Atlas Shrugged Still - H 2014

The third installment of the trilogy based on Ayn Rand's novel will open at a politically opportune time -- just ahead of midterm elections.

The third installment of the Atlas Shrugged movie trilogy has gone into production without any of the primary cast members from the previous installment, though a complete change of acting talent has been the norm for this politically charged franchise.

The film, based on the influential book by Ayn Rand, is titled Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt? In the movie, the answer is that Galt is to be played by Kristoffer Polaha, whose film credits include Devil’s Knot with Reese Witherspoon and TV credits include roles on the CW shows Ringer and Life Unexpected. He also appears in the upcoming Fox show Backstrom, starring Rainn Wilson.

The story’s heroine, Dagny Taggart, will be played by Laura Regan, who was in the movie Unbreakable with Bruce Willis and has appeared on the AMC hit show Mad Men.

EARLIER: 'Atlas Shrugged' Producers to Launch Kickstarter Campaign to Complete Trilogy 

Cast as Taggart’s love interest, the wealthy industrialist Hank Rearden, is Rob Morrow, while Eric Allan Kramer has been cast as Ragnar Danneskjold, a modern-day maritime pirate.

Francisco d’Anconia, a brilliant entrepreneur with the reputation of a frivolous playboy, is to be played by Joaquim de Almeida, a Portuguese actor who has appeared in TV shows like Once Upon a Time, The Mentalist and Revolution.

Atlas Shrugged, the book first published in 1957, portrays a dystopian U.S. where soaring taxation, stifling governmental regulations and demonization of success are the norm. Eventually, the most productive members of society begin to voluntarily disappear in an attempt at a bizarre “strike” that is seemingly orchestrated by a mysterious figure known as John Galt.

The book has been embraced anew by conservatives and Libertarians who have seen it as politically relevant since shortly after Barack Obama was elected president. Nevertheless, the movie trilogy has struggled at the box office even as fans praised the first two films for adhering to the principles and storyline of the novel. Atlas Shrugged Part I earned $4.6 million in 2011 and Part II earned $3.3 million.

Co-producer Harmon Kaslow said the casting of Galt was particularly important this time around, since the role is crucial in the third installment but was not in the first two, where the character hardly appears.

“As soon as Kris walked in the room and said, ‘Hello,’ we knew we found him. Kris is John Galt,” Kaslow said.

The third Atlas Shrugged is scheduled for release by Atlas Distribution Co. in September, when Americans will turn their attention to midterm elections, and Kaslow says he is hoping the country’s focus on politics will spill into theaters where his film is showing. He also says the third film’s release pattern will stress the areas of the country where the first two installments were most popular.

In the first Atlas Shrugged, Taylor Schilling played Taggart, Grant Bowler played Rearden and Jsu Garcia played d’Anconia. In Part II, Samantha Mathis played Taggart, Jason Beghe played Rearden and Esai Morales played d’Anconia.

Email: Paul.Bond@THR.com