Actor will voice lead character for indie feature

Ricky Gervais will voice the lead character of Mole in “The Wind in the Willows,” the live-action/animatronic indie feature directed by Ray Griggs (“I Want Your Money”) through his RG Entertainment banner.

Radar Pictures topper Ted Field (“The Last Samurai”) has come aboard the project as a producer. Pre-production will begin this year in New Zealand, where Griggs will be working with Peter Jackson’s visual effects company Weta. More voice cast will be announced shortly.

Bill Marsilii (“Deja Vu”) penned the adaptation of the story by Kenneth Grahame. “It’s a natural fit to have an iconic British actor star in an iconic British tale,” Griggs said. “I had Ricky in mind for this role from the inception of this project.”

Griggs and the Weta team showcased the first teaser trailer at Comic-Con this summer.

“Willows” centers on a quartet of talking animals– Mole, Rat, Badger and Toad– in a story that mixes adventure, morality and camaraderie.

It has been adapted as a feature several times, including the 1949 Disney animated film “The Adventures of Ichabod Crane and Mr. Toad” and Sony’s 1996 live-action version directed by Terry Jones.

In the Marsilii script, the animals join forces to save their land from a sinister plot that threatens to destroy the uneasy truce between the peaceful animals of the Willows and what remains of Mankind. Story begins when Mole ventures out of his lonely home for the first time and finds a world of new friendships, wonders and adventure waiting for him in the land of the Willows.

Gervais was last seen in “The Invention of Lying” and “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.” Griggs also wrote, directed, and produced “Super Capers.”

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