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SYDNEY — Rachel Griffiths and Anthony LaPaglia will star in Underground, a two-hour telefilm about Julian Assange’s early life as a teenage hacker in Melbourne, Australia, that’s been commissioned by Network Ten here.
Newcomer Alex Williams will play the young Assange in the project being produced by NBCUniversal’s majority owned local production shingle, Matchbox Pictures.
Griffiths will play Assange’s activist mother, Christine, and LaPaglia plays Ken Roberts, the police detective tracking Assange and his co-renegades, who successfully hacked into the some of the biggest corporate and military organizations in the world during the late 1980s and early 1990s, at the dawn of the Internet age.
Underground will see LaPaglia reteam with writer-director Robert Connolly, after the pair worked together on 2009 Australian feature Balibo. Connolly has written the screenplay from the 1997 book Underground: Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier by Suelette Dreyfus. Connolly also collaborated closely on the script with Australian journalist Mark Davis, who, when Assange was relatively unknown and on the run, traveled extensively with him through Europe.
Tony Ayres and Helen Bowden, producers of the critically acclaimed and top-rated Aussie TV drama series The Slap, will produce Underground with Network Ten’s Rick Maier executive producing.
The cast also includes Callan McAuliffe, Laura Wheelwright, Benedict Samuel and Jordan Raskopoulos.
“Everyone has an opinion about Julian Assange,” Maier said. “This film will deliver a compelling insight into who Julian is and how he became one of the most talked-about figures of our time. We are delighted Rachel and Anthony are on board for this exciting television event for Ten.”
Underground starts a four-week shoot April 16 in Melbourne and will air on Network Ten later this year. The film is being sold internationally by NBCUniversal.
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