Harris prepares to direct Western drama

Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen and Renee Zellweger will topline the Western drama “Appaloosa,” with Harris directing from the screenplay he co-wrote with Robert Knott. New Line is on board to distribute and Michael London is producing via his Groundswell Prods., which is co-financing the film.

Harris and Knott also are producing. Lensing is set to start Oct. 1 in New Mexico, giving New Line a strongly cast project to shoot before a possible strike by actors next summer.

Project reteams Harris and Mortensen, who worked together on New Line’s “A History of Violence.” Story is adapted from Robert B. Parker’s novel of the same name, centered on a pair of friends hired to protect a lawless town suffering at the hands of a renegade rancher. The arrival of an attractive widow disrupts their plans.

It’s the second directorial gig for Harris, who directed himself in “Pollock.” He’ll be seen next in “Gone Baby Gone,” “The Cleaner” and “National Treasure: Book of Secrets.”

Zellweger is voicing a lead role in “Bee Movie” and will be seen in “Leatherheads” and “Case 39.”

Groundswell has completed production on “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh,” “Smart People” and “The Visitor.” London’s credits include “Sideways” and “The Illusionist.”

“Appaloosa” is the second Western penned by Parker, best known for suspense novels. He also wrote “Gunman’s Rhapsody,” a fictional version of the Wyatt Earp story.

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