Callan McAuliffe has joined the cast of Australian crime thriller The Reckoning, a smart choice as the actor's profile is sure to rise in May with the premiere of Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby, in which he plays the young Jay Gatsby (pictured).
Writer-director John V. Soto's film follows a detective who's desperate to track down two teenage runaways who have video footage of a murder – before the killer finds them. Callan, 17, who moved to the US with his mother in 2010, will play one of the runaways.
The producer, Filmscope Entertainment's Deidre Kitcher, tells SBS Film she'll announce the casting of the other major roles- the cop, his partner, the female runaway and the killer- in mid-January.
Pre-production is due to start in Perth in February. Kitcher raised the budget from private investors, Screen West, the 40 per cent producer offset and a sales advance from the worldwide sales agent Lightning Entertainment.
Kitcher describes the film's non-linear narrative, with two timelines set in the past and present, as Memento meets Kalifornia, referring to thrillers directed by Christopher Nolan and Dominic Sena.
Soto's most recent film, horror pic Needle, sold to more than 80 countries and was released in the US by Lionsgate. The executive producers of The Reckoning are Greg Coote and David Calvert-Jones, partners in Los Angeles-based Larrikin Entertainment, and Robert Lundberg, Larrikin's head of development and production.
Soto and Kitcher got in touch with Coote at the suggestion of Stephen Langsford, the Perth-based executive chairman of Quickflix. Soto met with Lundberg in LA after Needle was selected for Screamfest and pitched the concept for The Reckoning.
“Bob immediately connected with the concept and with Greg's support and advice, along with John's US manager Diane McGee, the script began to take shape through numerous rewrites,” says Kitcher. “John has said that the script was probably the most complex story he could have possibly chosen. Greg and Robert have also been instrumental in assisting with key casting and distribution.”
McAuliffe's credits include sci-fi thriller I Am Number Four, Rob Reiner's romantic comedy Flipped, Showtime's Cloudstreet and Rob Connolly's Network Ten telemovie Underground: The Julian Assange Story. He won the role in The Great Gatsby after sending an audition tape to Luhrmann. He describes the director as “eccentric and imaginative” and a fast worker.
The actor donned blue contact lenses and had his hair dyed darker to more closely resemble Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays the adult Gatsby. His latest film is Blue Potato, a coming-of-age drama written and directed by Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly, set in Maine, co-starring Emory Cohen and Sarah Sutherland, Kiefer Sutherland's daughter.