After starring in the blockbuster Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies for Peter Jackson, Hugo Weaving is reuniting with the filmmaker once again. The actor has signed on to star in Universal Pictures and Media Rights Capital's highly-anticipated adaptation of Mortal Engines, joining a cast that includes Robbie Sheehan, Rohan Raftery, Hera Hilmar and Stephen Lang. Peter Jackson is only writing and producing this adaptation though, with his longtime visual effects collaborator Christian Rivers set to make his feature directorial debut.
Variety broke the news on this casting earlier today, although there was no word on who the actor is playing. Subsequent reports have revealed that Hugo Weaving is playing Valentine, which is likely the Thaddeus Valentine character from the original Philip Reeve novels. In the books, Thaddeus Valentine is a Historian, who, in serves this post-apocalyptic world by collecting and preserving artifacts, which most often can be incredibly dangerous. Valentine is often idolized by younger historians, although he has a secret life most aren't aware of.
Mortal Engines is set in a world many thousands of years in the future. Earth's cities now roam the globe on huge wheels, devouring each other in a struggle for ever diminishing resources. On one of these massive Traction Cities, Tom Natsworthy has an unexpected encounter with a mysterious young woman from the Outlands who will change the course of his life forever. The story is largely set in London, where the population has been divided into four major guilds, along with numerous minor guilds. The four major guilds are the Historians, the Navigators, who are responsible for steering the course of London, the Merchants, who run the local economy, and the Engineers, who are responsible for keeping the machines running that are necessary for the city's survival.
Christian Rivers is directing from a script written by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens. Peter Jackson and his wife Fran Walsh first optioned the Mortal Engines novel from Scholastic back in 2001, and they have been active in the project's development ever since. Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh will produce with Zane Weiner, Amanda Walker and Deborah Forte. Ken Kamins, who serves as the longtime manager for all of the writers and took the project to Media Rights Capital, will serve as executive producer with Philippa Boyens. Universal has already set a December 14, 2018 release date, which doesn't have any direct competition, but falls a week before Sony's animated Spider-Man movie and Warner Bros.' Aquaman.
Christian Rivers started his career as a digital artist for Peter Jackson's Weta Digital, working on the 1997 sci-fi film Contact. He moved on to work with Peter Jackson on his sprawling fantasy adaptation of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring as a visual effects art director, along with The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers as a pre-visualization supervisor and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King as a visual effects conceptual designer. He also worked as an animation director on Peter Jackson's King Kong, a visual effects supervisor on The Lovely Bones and a previsualization supervisor on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. He was then promoted as a splinter unit director on The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug} and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, while also serving as a second unit director on last year's Pete's Dragon. Hugo Weaving most recently starred in Hacksaw Ridge, and he will next be seen in Jasper Jones. Hopefully we'll have more casting news for Mortal Engines soon.