First Look: Martin Freeman in Australian Zombie Thriller ‘Cargo’

'Cargo' Martin Freeman Still - Publicity - H 2016
Causeway Films

'Cargo' is based on the 2013 short film of the same name, which was a finalist at the Tropfest Film Festival.

While he’s played a fantasy creature and a Victorian-era doctor-turned-sleuth in The Hobbit and Sherlock, respectively, upcoming Australia thriller Cargo is the first time Martin Freeman has starred in a genre film.

Based on the hit Australian short film of the same name by Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling, Freeman stars as Andy, a father infected with a killer virus in the  aftermath of a zombie pandemic. Stranded in rural Australia he has a desperate 48 hours to find a new guardian for his infant daughter and a means to protect her from his own changing nature. Salvation may lie with an isolated Aboriginal tribe, but to gain access he must first earn the allegiance of a young Indigenous girl on a tragic quest of her own.

Producer Sam Jennings of Causeway Films told THR that while Freeman’s agent initially said that “genre’s not really his thing,” on reading Ramke’s script the British actor was impacted by the story, finding it “unexpectedly powerful.”

Currently in production in South Australia, Cargo also stars legendary Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil (Charlie’s Country), Anthony Hayes (Animal Kingdom, The Light Between Oceans, upcoming War Machine), Caren Pistorius (The Light Between Oceans), Susie Porter (Puberty Blues) and newcomer Simone Landers.

Ramke and Howling are co-directing their debut feature. Causeway Films producers Samantha Jennings and Kristina Ceyton (The Babadookare working alongside Addictive Pictures’ Russell Ackermann and John Schoenfelder, with Mark Patterson attached as South Australian producer.

The film is being financed with the assistance of Screen Australia, the South Australian Film Corporation, Screen NSW, White Hot Productions and The Gingerbread Man.

Bankside Films is handling international sales, with Umbrella distributing in Australia and New Zealand and Icon Film Distribution distributing in the U.K. Bankside Film’s sister company, Head Gear Films, also provided production finance, with Phil Hunt and Compton Ross acting as executive producers for Head Gear Films.