Espen Sandberg and Joachim Rønning will direct the film for Denmark’s Nordisk and the UK’s Recorded Picture Company.

Norwegian actor Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen [pictured] will play scientist Thor Heyerdahl, and Swedish actor Gustaf Skarsgård one of his crew on board Kon-Tiki, Norway’s most expensive feature ever, which will start production in May for Denmark’s Nordisk Film Production and the UK’s Recorded Picture Company.

Hagen, Skarsgård and cast members Odd-Magnus Wiliamson, Tobias Santelmann, Anders Baasmi Christiansen and Jakob Oftebro were introduced at a press conference in Oslo today by Norwegian directors Espen Sandberg and Joachim Rønning.

”The actors who will portray the boys on the raft are all exciting and talented; they represent as new generation in Norwegian cinema,” said Sandberg and Rønning. ”They will show what kind of people have the courage to join an adventure as the Kon-Tiki expedition.”

Kon-Tiki was the name of the wooden raft Heyerdahl and five fellow scientists used for a 101-day journey from South America to the Polynesian Islands. Heyerdahl wanted to prove that the islands were populated from the east – especially Peru – rather than from the west.

In 1950, the 8,000-kilometre voyage was turned into a documentary directed by Heyerdahl himself, which became the first (and until now only) Norwegian full-length film to scoop an Oscar.

Already on record as an Oscar-winning documentary, Heyerdahl’s book about the 1947 trip has been translated into more than 70 languages, and sold an estimated 50 million copies. Until his death in 2002 he was working on a feature version, now to be scripted by Peter Skavlan.

The $11.6m (NOK 63 million) epic will be produced by Aage Aaberge (for Nordisk) and Oscar winner Jeremy Thomas (for RPC), $3.3m (NOK 18.1 million) support from the Norwegian Film Institute, and $0.7m (NOK 3.9m) top financing from Eurimages.

The third feature by Sandberg and Rønning, after local blockbuster Max Manus which took a record 1.2 million admissions domestically, will be launched in 2012. Nordisk will distribute in Denmark, and RPC’s sister company HanWay Films is handling international sales.