Noted New Zealand actor Sam Neill, known for his work in Jurassic Park, Event Horizon, Reilly, Ace of Spies and The Tudors, has joined the cast of The Hippopotamus following its acquisition by Metrodome Distribution from sales agent Highland Film Group. The deal was negotiated by Metrodome managing director Jezz Vernon and producer Jay Taylor.
The Hippopotamus, based on the 1994 best-selling novel by novelist, presenter and comedian Stephen Fry, is currently set to star Roger Allam and will centre on disgraced poet Ted Wallace (Allam), who is summoned to a friend’s country manor to investigate a number of unexplainable miracle healings.
Fry’s original novel was an international bestseller, translated into 14 languages and is known for its creative use of spoof poems and limericks. The script for the film is to be adapted by celebrated theatre director and writer Blanche McIntyre and Tom Hodgson, who wrote the 2014 biopic of Spanish championship golfer Seve Ballesteros, Seve.
Neill has confirmed that he will join the film with further casting announcements to be made over the coming weeks ahead of shooting, which is expected to begin in August. It will be directed by John Jencks, primarily known for his first feature The Fold and his numerous short films, and is set to be produced by Taylor along with Alexa Seligman from Electric Shadow.
Although this is the first of Fry’s novels to be adapted for cinema, it will not be the last. His 1991 work, The Liar, a story about a public school and Oxbridge educated man who partakes in espionage games solely to avert boredom and already famous for being the namesake of Dundee University’s Student Union bar, is currently in development with Fry, Ian McKellan and Nicholas Hoult to star.
A release date for The Hippopotamus has yet to be announced.