“Driving Miss Daisy” director Bruce Beresford is directing a biopic on the life of Buddy Holly called “Clear Lake,” and the independent film has cast Ruairi O’Connor, best known for his role in the Starz miniseries “The Spanish Princess,” to star as the rock ‘n’ roll icon.
“Clear Lake” tells the story of how Buddy Holly and other famous musicians of the late 1950s gave birth to rock ‘n’ roll while changing the trajectory of civil rights in America, all leading up to “The Day The Music Died,” when Holly died in a plane crash outside Clear Lake, Iowa on February 3, 1959, along with Ritchie Valens, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and pilot Roger Peterson.
Rick French (“Not Without Hope”) is producing for Prix Productions along with Stuart Benjamin (“Ray,” “La Bamba”) of Stuart Benjamin Productions.
The filmmakers on “Clear Lake” spent six months searching for its Buddy Holly, someone who both resembled Holly but could also handle vocals and instrumentation for some of his classic songs such as “Everyday,” “That’ll Be The Day” and “Not Fade Away.”
Principal photography hopes to begin on the film in spring 2021.
“We looked at hundreds and hundreds of audition tapes for the Buddy Holly role and interviewed some tremendously talented actors and musicians but Ruairi’s audition really stood out,” French said. “He’s a terrific young actor who exudes charisma and he’s also a very accomplished musician who our team believes can handle this very challenging role.”
“Clear Lake” is being developed by Prix Productions in association with Stuart Benjamin Productions and BMG, which manages the Buddy Holly estate and controls the U.S. publishing rights to his catalog. David Hirshland and Kathy Rivkin Daum are also producing on behalf of BMG.
Maria Elena Holly, widow of Buddy Holly, Stephen Easley, general counsel to Mrs. Holly and The Buddy Holly Educational Foundation, and Peter Bradley, Jr. of The Buddy Holly Educational Foundation, are associate producers. Patrick Shanahan, who adapted Easley and French’s original story, penned the screenplay and is a co-producer. He and French are partners in Prix Productions, with Easley serving as general counsel.
O’Connor is an Irish-born actor who previously starred in “Teen Spirit” opposite Elle Fanning, and he’ll next be seen in “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It.”
O’Connor is represented by Independent Talent Group, LINK Entertainment, and Rick Genow at Goodman, Genow, Schenkman & Christopher. Beresford is represented by The Gersh Agency, French is represented by Buchwald, and Benjamin is represented by the Johnson & Johnson law firm.