Northern Irish actor James Nesbitt has been cast in an untitled feature that started shooting in Melbourne yesterday (May 11) with Nadia Tass directing for ContentFilm International.

He will appear alongside Australians Jacinda Barrett and Richard Roxburgh, who play a husband and wife with a sick son; Nesbitt is the father of the boy in the adjacent hospital bed.

The two boys are played by two of Australia’s most impressive up-and-coming young actors, Kodi Smit-McPhee, who was cast as Eric Bana’s son in Romulus, My Father, and Tom Russell, who is Hugo Weaving’s in the just-completed Last Ride.

Twentieth Century Fox has committed to distribute the film in its home market and in New Zealand.

When Screen Australia agreed to provide financing last year, the film was titled Love And Mortar. Other investors include Film Victoria and the Melbourne International Film Festival Premier Fund.

The husband-and-wife team of Tass and David Parker are producing under their Cascade Films banner, with Richard Keddie the third producer. Parker also co-wrote the script with Lynne Renew and is the cinematographer.

Tass has spent most of this decade directing telemovies in the US but her and Parker made a big impact locally with Malcolm in 1986, then The Big Steal in 1990. Both films are among the top 100 Australian performers at the local box office.

Barrett has forged a career internationally with recent titles including School For Scoundrels, The Last Kiss, and The Namesake. This film will be the former model’s first role in an Australian film.