Two Australian thrillers directed by David Michôd and Julius Avery boast high-profile casts.
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6 Feb 2013 - 3:03 PM  UPDATED 6 Feb 2013 - 3:03 PM

Have two Australian films shooting at the same time, let alone in the same year, ever boasted the combined star power of Robert Pattinson, Guy Pearce, Ewan McGregor, Anthony Hayes, Scoot McNairy, up-and-comer Brenton Thwaites and Swedish actress Alicia Vikander?

Probably not, so it's a credit to the producers and the directors for assembling such high-voltage casts for The Rover and Son of a Gun.

Pearce and Pattinson play criminals in David Michôd's The Rover, which started shooting in South Australia last week. It's Michôd's follow-up to Animal Kingdom; he wrote the screenplay based on a story he conceived with Joel Edgerton.

Set in the desert, it features Pearce as Eric, a guy who hits rock bottom when a gang of criminals steals his last possession. Eric sets off to track them down, helped by Rey (Pattinson), the naïve and injured member of the gang who was left behind in the chaos of the gang's last robbery.

Scoot McNairy (Argo, Killing Them Softly) plays Rey's brother and other cast members include Susan Prior (Animal Kingdom, Not Suitable for Children), Gillian Jones (Oscar and Lucinda, The Tree), Anthony Hayes (Burning Man, Animal Kingdom) and David Field (Chopper, The Combination).

Producers Liz Watts of Porchlight Films and David Linde of US-based Lava Bear Films secured the backing of Screen Australia, the South Australian Film Corporation, Screen NSW and Canada's Media House Capital.

Watts and Porchlight produced Animal Kingdom. Roadshow will release in Australia and Film Nation has sold the film to a bunch of markets including the UK, Canada, France, Germany and Japan.

Son of a Gun will feature McGregor as a master criminal rated as Australia's public enemy number one. Thwaites, the former Home and Away regular who recently wrapped filming Disney's fantasy thriller Maleficent with Angelina Jolie, plays the young protégé of McGregor's character. Vikander (Anna Karenina, A Royal Affair) plays a feisty young woman who becomes romantically involved with Thwaites' character. Also joining the cast is Jacek Koman (who appears in The Great Gatsby and Jane Campion's upcoming miniseries Top of the Lake) as a manipulative crime boss.

The psychological thriller marks the debut of writer-director Julius Avery (pictured), whose Jerrycan won the jury prize for best short film at the 2008 Cannes International Film Festival.

Shooting is due to start in Perth and Kalgoorlie in late February. The film is a co-production between Timothy White's Southern Light Films and Janelle Landers' WBMC. The executive producers are Aaron L. Gilbert of Media House Capital, John Collee, Bryce Menzies, Michael Spiccia and Aidan O'Bryan. UTA is handling North American rights and UK-based Altitude Film Sales has international. Hopscotch eOne has Australian and New Zealand rights.