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When it comes to directors who could properly helm an adaptation of Nathanial Philbrick’s National Book Award-winning nonfictional account In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, Edward Zwick being traded out for Ron Howard is kind of like spending the extra quarter to get Kraft Macaroni & Cheese instead of the store brand version. It’s better, sure, but it’s still a safe and unsurprising non-meal. But still, I like Ron Howard.
And I like Cillian Murphy, too. So I’m pleased as whale punch that Murphy will be joining the cast of Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures’ In the Heart of the Sea, as reported by Deadline. Beyond having some of the most piercing eyes in Hollywood, the Irish star has had a solid career in the past decade after breaking out in 2003’s 28 Days Later - one of my favorite films of the past decade, coincidentally – and has worked with some truly excellent directors, from Danny Boyle to Christopher Nolan to Neil Jordan. Far be it from me to say he will make a Ron Howard movie better, but I’m pretty sure he will make this Ron Howard movie better, especially when he’ll be joined by Chris Hemsworth, another actor who tends to do no wrong.
In the film, Murphy will take on the role of Matthew Joy, second mate to first-time Captain Pollard (Benjamin Walker) and first mate Owen Chase (Hemsworth) on the whale ship Essex in the furthest reaches of the South Pacific. An enraged sperm whale sinks the large ship, and 20 crew members are left to try and survive the high seas, over 3,000 miles from shores of any kind. Sounds like the kind of trip you want to win in a lottery, right? Fearing reports of cannibals, Joy and Chase convince their captain to lead the crew to South America, cramped into three small boats. Three months and 4,500 miles later, their stories do not end in the most pleasing manner.
Murphy’s biggest upcoming project besides this one is former Nolan cinematographer Wally Pfister’s sci-fi epic Transcendence, which will be out next year. In the meantime, you can catch him opposite Tim Roth in the psychological drama Broken and in the BBC crime drama Peak Binders. He also just finished filming the drama Cut/Fly, which will also be out next year. We’re still waiting on a Scarecrow spinoff to bring back his Batman Begins character, but we're also not holding our breath.
In the Heart of the Sea is set to begin filming around London starting in mid-September this year. Something tells me they won’t be shooting a lot inside the city proper.