Two actors join 'Moby' mini

William Hurt, Ethan Hawke to star in retelling

The upcoming Teutonic retelling of "Moby Dick" has its Ahab: William Hurt has signed on to play the megamaniacal, peg-legged captain of the whaler Pequod, and Ethan Hawke has inked to play Starbuck, the first officer who is just about the only sailor who defies him.

Based on Herman Melville's 1851 novel, the miniseries is being produced by Herbert Kloiber's Tele Munchen and is being called the most expensive project in the German company's 40-year history. The budget is clocking at $25 million.

"We are delighted to have signed up two such powerful, charismatic and versatile actors as William Hurt and Ethan Hawke for the lead roles," Kloiber said.

Germany's RTL, Austria's ORF and Robert Halmi's RHI Entertainment have boarded as partners on the project.

Further foreign sales of the mini should take place in Cannes during the upcoming Mipcom TV trade show. There is no U.S. deal in place.

Shooting begins in Lunenburg on the east coast of Canada in mid September and continues thereafter in Malta. The project envisions CGI animation as well as action scenes on the high seas.

The mini will wrap in fall 2010.

"Moby Dick" is produced by Rikolt von Gagern, whose company Gate Film recently produced for Tele Munchen Jack London's "Sea Wolf" with Sebastian Koch, Tim Roth and Neve Campbell.

Also back on board for the screen adaptation of the Melville classic is "Sea Wolf" director Mike Barker and script writer Nigel Williams, who penned the TV series "Elizabeth I."