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A new film is set to dramatize the life of Australia’s most famous outlaw Ned Kelly, starring X-Men‘s Nicholas Hoult and rising star George MacKay.

And while this is the latest in a series of fascinating back-to-back roles for the erstwhile About a Boy star, it’s fair to say you might not have heard of George Mackay. Expect that to change by the end of 2018, however, as George has no fewer than four movies due out then, including playing Hamlet in Shakespearean role-reversal drama Ophelia, which stars Daisy Ridley in the eponymous role.

True History of the Kelly Gang sees him take center stage, however. Deadline reports that George will play the bushranger Kelly, who famously wore a homemade suit of bulletproof armour during his final shootout with police, with Nicholas in an as-yet undisclosed role.

Kelly’s story is a complicated one: in the eyes of the law, he and his gang were bandits and murderers, but to many ordinary Australians, they were heroes who defied English authority.

Starring alongside them will be two Australian actors, Oscar winner Russell Crowe and The Babadook‘s Essie Davis, and an ensemble cast that includes VikingsTravis Fimmel, Stranger ThingsDacre Montgomery, Hacksaw Ridge star (and Hugo Weaving‘s son) Harry Greenwood, and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies‘s Thomasin McKenzie.

Bringing one of the most notorious chapters of Australian history to life has been a long-term project of filmmaker Justin Kurzel, who recently directed Michael Fassbender in game-turned-movie Assassin’s Creed.

True History of the Kelly Gang will adapt a historical novel of the same name by Peter Carey, a book recently named one of the top 100 novels in English, and one the director says “always felt like the true spirit of Ned Kelly.”

“Unsentimental, brutal, raw and visceral,” he went on, “his story is one of the great odysseys in history, and I feel excited to be bringing it to the screen with a fresh cinematic eye.”

Cameras start rolling in Australia this coming March.

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By Kat Sommers
Kat is a freelance writer for Anglophenia.