Irish eyes smiling on Loach’s pic

Murphy set to star in Pathe drama

Pathe Pictures Intl. has set Cillian Murphy and Liam Cunningham to star in “The Wind That Shakes the Barley,” an Ireland-set drama to be directed by Ken Loach.

Loach’s longtime collaborator Paul Laverty is scripting; Rebecca O’Brien produces the project. PPI will sell the film worldwide.

Murphy and Cunningham will play brothers who join the guerilla armies formed to do battle with the British Black and Tan squads trying to block Ireland’s bid for independence in 1919. The Sixteen Films co-production with Regent Capital will be partly financed by the U.K. Film Council’s New Cinema Fund, the Irish Film Board and other enterprises. Pathe Distribution will release the film in the U.K.

Murphy (“28 Days Later”) will next be seen playing the villainous Scarecrow in the Christopher Nolan-directed “Batman Begins,” opening June 17. He also stars with Rachel McAdams in the Wes Craven-directed “Red Eye,” which DreamWorks is releasing Aug. 5. He most recently wrapped the Neil Jordan-directed “Breakfast on Pluto,” which Sony Pictures Classics will bow in December.

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