Russell Crowe will star in the survival drama “In Sand and Blood” for IM Global, set in Africa in the early 19th century.

Luc Roeg is producing with IM Global topper Stuart Ford and production president Matt Jackson both executive producing. The project has been in development since 2010 with “Public Enemies” scribe Ronan Bennett writing a script, based on Dean King’s nonfiction book “Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival.”

Saul Dibb, whose credits include Michelle Williams’ “Suite Francaise,” Keira Knightley’s “The Duchess,” is directing. IM Global is fully financing.

The story became known due to a memoir by American sea captain James Riley, who detailed how he and his crew were captured in Africa after being shipwrecked in 1815 off the desolate coast of the Sahara. The book was published in 1817 as “Authentic Narrative of the Loss of the American Brig Commerce” and republished as “Sufferings in Africa,” which included being captured and enslaved by marauding natives.

Riley was able to convince an Arab trader to buy him and some of his men, then bluffed the trader into believing the trader would receive more money for him from a European official in a Moroccan port — which is what took place.

The book became a best-seller and President Abraham Lincoln cited it as one of the most influential texts that inspired him.

Crowe made his directorial debut in “The Water Diviner” this year and will be seen next with Ryan Gosling in Shane Black’s thriller “The Nice Guys” for Warner Bros.

Crowe dropped a hint about his role in a Sept. 24 tweet, indicating that he had already begun research for the part.