Rose Byrne to play Jacinda Ardern in Christchurch terror attack film - report

Rose Byrne to play Jacinda Ardern in Christchurch terror attack film - report
Photo credit: Getty Images.

Australian actress Rose Byrne will play New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in an upcoming film about the response to the 2019 Christchurch terror attack, according to Hollywood media outlet Deadline.

According to the report, the film, titled They Are Us, will focus on the week after the attack and will be written and directed by Kiwi Andrew Niccol. He was nominated for an Academy Award for writing 1998's The Truman Show. He made his directorial debut with science-fiction film Gattaca.

Byrne is known for her comedic performances in Spy, Get Him to the Greek and Bridesmaids.

"The project follows Ardern’s response to the tragic events and the remarkable achievements of her government and citizens who rallied behind her message of compassion and unity to ban assault rifles in New Zealand," Deadline reports.

"The title comes from the PM’s powerful speech describing the 51 victims of the attack, which took place across two mosques in Christchurch during Friday prayer on March 15, 2019. Ardern received worldwide praise for her response to the shootings."

It's said production will take place in New Zealand and that the script was developed in consultation with several members of the mosque affected by the tragedy.

A spokesperson for Ardern told Newshub the Prime Minister and the Government have no involvement with the film.

A spokesperson for the New Zealand Film Commission says: "While there is no indication at this stage if the production will seek contestable production financing from the NZFC, we do however understand that the production does intend to apply for the New Zealand Screen Production Grant (NZSPG) though"

Niccol said the film is more about the response to the attack and "how an unprecedented act of hate was overcome by an outpouring of love and support" than the actual event itself. 

"The film addresses our common humanity, which is why I think it will speak to people around the world. It is an example of how we should respond when there’s an attack on our fellow human beings."

Glen Basner's FilmNation Entertainment is reported to be shopping the film to international buyers at the Cannes Virtual Market.

"We are thrilled to bring to market this inspiring story about the positive impact, even in the darkest of moments, a strong leader can have on their constituents’ lives when they work from a place of compassion, love and an unwavering conviction to do what is right," Basner said.