Willem Dafoe, Ioan Gruffudd and Hayden Panettiere have joined Julia Roberts, Carrie-Anne Moss, Ryan Reynolds and Emily Watson on Senator Entertainment's first self-financed US production, the drama Fireflies In The Garden.

Shannon Lucio, and George Newbern have also boarded Dennis Lee's feature directorial debut, which is set for an Apr 3 start in Austin, Texas.

Lee's semi-autobiographical story explores the complexities of love and commitment in a family torn apart when faced by an unexpected tragedy. Dafoe will play Roberts' husband and Reynolds and Lucio will play their children.

Senator's Marco Weber and Vanessa Coifman are producing along with Sukee Chew.

'We are quite fortunate to have secured an ensemble with such talent and global box office track record,' Weber said. 'Their desire to be involved with this film clearly shows the quality of the script that Dennis wrote and will direct as his first feature.'

CAA is representing domestic rights and Essential Entertainment is selling foreign rights excluding Germany, which is handled by Senator.

Senator is currently in pre-production on The Informers, based on Brett Easton Ellis' novel. The project begins shooting this summer.