Ruairi O'Connor to Play Buddy Holly in Bruce Beresford's 'Clear Lake' Biopic

Ruairi O'Connor
Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images

Ruairi O'Connor

The 'Spanish Princess' star boards the drama about the rock 'n' roll icon's early years.

Driving Miss Daisy director Bruce Beresford has found his Buddy Holly for Clear Lake, an upcoming biopic about the rock 'n' roll icon.

Ruairi O’Connor, who stars as a young King Henry VIII in Starz's miniseries The Spanish Princess, has been cast as Holly in the BMG-backed music biopic produced by Rick French of Prix Productions and Stuart Benjamin of Stuart Benjamin Productions.

Clear Lake will open with Holly's teen years, then portray his 1958 Biggest Show of Stars tour with Clarence Collins, founder of Little Anthony & the Imperials, as they broke racial barriers by performing together across the U.S. in 1958.

O’Connor was tapped to play Holly after a talent search that required the right actor to both resemble Holly and handle the vocals and instrumentation on classic songs such as Everyday, That’ll Be the Day, and Not Fade Away.

"We looked at hundreds and hundreds of audition tapes for the Buddy Holly role and interviewed some tremendously talented actors and musicians, but Ruairi’s audition really stood out. He’s a terrific young actor who exudes charisma and he’s also a very accomplished musician who our team believes can handle this very challenging role," Stuart French said in a statement.

A tentative spring 2021 start date for principal photography on Clear Lake is scheduled. While also following Holly's musical ties with Little Richard, Dion, Lavern Baker and other pop music pioneers, Clear Lake will bridge to Holly meeting his future bride, Maria Elena Holly, and a fateful decision to sign onto the 1959 Winter Dance Party tour that ended with a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa on February 3, 1959.

Holly's widow, Maria Elena Holly, also helped develop the biopic as an associate producer.

Ireland-born O'Connor previously starred in Max Minghella’s Teen Spirit, opposite Elle Fanning. Other credits include the role of Niall in Lenny Abrahamson’s What Richard Did and Weasel in John Butler’s  Handsome Devil.

O’Connor is represented by Independent Talent Group and LINK Entertainment. Beresford is represented by The Gersh Agency. French is represented by Buchwald, and Benjamin is represented by the Johnson & Johnson law firm.