Knightley to play widow
Keira Knightley will join the starstudded cast of a film about the 1996 Mt Everest tragedy in which Kiwi climbers Rob Hall and Andy Harris died.
Everest will feature Hollywood stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, and Sam Worthington, and it has now been revealed Knightley will play Rob Hall’s widow, Jan Arnold.
Knightley will recreate the emotional phone calls between Hall and a pregnant Arnold in New Zealand as he was trapped high on the mountain.
Filming started in Rome in February and the movie is due to be released early next year.
In May 1996 two parties on the south col of Everest, one being guided by Rob Hall’s Adventure Consultants and another being led by American Scott Fischer, were caught in a blizzard.
Five people died, along with three climbers from the Indo-Tibetan Border police on the north col.
The film is being made by production company Working Title.
Arnold said she felt positive about the movie as it was the first time input had been sought from a New Zealand perspective.
‘‘We assisted them with part of it. Most of the information is in the public domain so they can make it anyway, but we had the feeling that Working Title had big motivation to tell the story as close as they could to the truth.’’
She thought it would be a ‘‘dramabased-on’’ sort of film, but those behind the production said they wanted to retell the story.
‘‘How they tell it in the end will be how they tell it, but I did feel that their motivation was to retell. I think it is a story worth telling, of bravery and ambition and humanity.’’
The cast is led by Hollywood stars Gyllenhaal, of Brokeback Mountain fame, who will play Scott Fisher, and No Country for Old Men star Brolin, who plays American climber Beck Weathers.
Australian Jason Clarke, who was in the Great Gatsby and Public Enemy, will play Rob Hall. Avatar actor Sam Worthington will play New Zealand climber and guide Guy Cotter, who was on the mountain when the tragedy happened.
Former Shortland Street star Martin Henderson has been cast as Andy Harris.
The movie is being filmed in Nepal, the Dolomites in Italy, Pinewood studios in London, and at Cinecitta studios where Gangs of New York and BBC series Rome was filmed.
Jan said another Kiwi will be involved in making the film – her nephew Sashi Arnold.
‘‘When these guys came over from London I said to them I know this is kind of cheeky, but I have this 19-year-old nephew, he is gorgeous, and this is the project he did on his uncle Rob when he was 9 years old; he’s studying film and he has a British passport and he’s desperate to get in the industry.
‘‘The guy looked across at the director and said ‘ you know he’s your next runner’,’’ she said.
Despite having stood on top of the world’s highest mountains, Jan said helping her nephew was one of her proudest achievements.
Cast: Hollywood actress Keira Knightley.