Rose Byrne is set to star as Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, in a drama about how Ardern took action to ban assault rifles in the country following a deadly shooting against the Muslim community in 2019.
The film is called “They Are Us,” and it’s set in the week following the terrorist attack on two mosques in the city of Christchurch in which 51 people were killed and another 49 were injured. Ardern’s response to the terrorist attack was praised worldwide, and a photo of her hugging a victim was famously projected on the side of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. Within a month of the attack, she rallied the New Zealand parliament to pass a ban on most semiautomatic weapons and assault rifles, as well as higher capacity magazines and parts that can convert guns into semiautomatic weapons.
Andrew Niccol (“The Truman Show”) is directing Byrne in “They Are Us” and also wrote the screenplay. The film will be presented to buyers at the Cannes Virtual Market, with FilmNation Entertainment handling international rights and CAA Media Finance handling domestic rights.
The film’s producers are Ayman Jamal, Stewart Till, Andrew Niccol and Philippa Campbell. Production will take place on location in New Zealand, and the script was developed in consultation with several members of the mosques affected by the tragedy.
The film’s title, “They Are Us,” comes from Ardern’s powerful speech describing the victims of the attack, in which she also vowed not to name the perpetrators of the shooting.
“‘They Are Us’ is not so much about the attack but the response to the attack. How an unprecedented act of hate was overcome by an outpouring of love and support,” Niccol said in a statement. “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.”
“We are thrilled to bring to market this inspiring true 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,” FilmNation CEO Glen Basner said in a statement.
Rose Byrne most recently starred in “Mrs. America” and will next be seen in the Apple TV+ series “Physical” and in “Peter Rabbit 2.”
Niccol is represented by CAA. Byrne is represented by CAA and RGM Artists.
For the record, a previous version of this story listed Andrew Niccol as the director of “The Truman Show.” He’s the writer.