McShane rises to ‘Dark’ challenge

Conroy, Ludwig also star

Ian McShane is starring in “The Dark Is Rising” for 20th Century Fox and Walden Media. Fantasy pic is being directed by David Cunningham and produced by Marc Platt.

Frances Conroy (“The Wicker Man,” “Shopgirl”) and Alexander Ludwig (Lifetime’s “A Little Thing Called Murder”) also star.

Production begins this month in Romania.

Pic is one of the first releases that will be handled by the new joint-marketing venture between Fox and Walden. Company was unveiled last summer and will specialize in the marketing of family films produced by Fox and Walden.

Part of a five-book series by Susan Cooper, “The Dark Is Rising” focuses on a youth, Will Stanton (Ludwig), who discovers at age 11 that he’s the last of a group of immortals — the Old Ones — dedicated to fighting a growing presence of dark forces. He comes to the realization he’s charged with saving the world.

McShane will play Merriman Lyon, one of the Old Ones who serves as Stanton’s mentor and shield.

John Hodge (“Trainspotting”) is adapting the project for the bigscreen.

McShane, who was a regular on HBO’s “Deadwood” as Al Swearengen, most recently was seen in Warner Bros.’ “We Are Marshall.” He recently wrapped Paramount’s horror thriller “Case No. 39” with Renee Zellweger.

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