Russell Crowe to Star in Epic Drama ‘In Sand and Blood’ for IM Global (Exclusive)

Ronan Bennett wrote the script, which tackles white slavery

Last Updated: September 29, 2015 @ 3:50 PM

Oscar winner Russell Crowe is set to star in “In Sand and Blood” for IM Global, TheWrap has learned. It is unclear whether Crowe will direct the epic drama after recently making his directorial debut with “The Water Diviner.”

Representatives for IM Global and Crowe dodged multiple inquiries regarding the project over the last several weeks.

Ronan Bennett wrote the script, which may be based on Dean King’s nonfiction book “Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival.” Luc Roeg will produce, while IM Global’s Stuart Ford will executive produce.

In 1815, an American brig, the Commerce, was wrecked on the desolate coast fringing the Western Sahara. Starving and dying of thirst, its 12 man crew were captured, stripped, beaten and enslaved, kept barely alive on camel blood and urine. Five were never to be seen again, the others sold to a succession of tribesmen who bought and bartered each man for as little as a tattered blanket.

An Arab trader, Sidi Hamet, then bought Captain James Riley (Crowe) and some of his men, aiming only to sell them on at a profit. By impassioned advocacy and sheer bluff, Riley convinced Hamet that he would receive a far greater ransom from a European consul — that in truth existed only in Riley’s imagination — who was supposedly based in a Moroccan port a thousand miles to the north. What followed was an epic, terrifying and, for some, ultimately fateful trek across one of the most extreme environments on earth.

Crowe teased his involvement in the project last week in a cryptic tweet that suggested he had already begun researching his role.

Crowe next stars opposite Ryan Gosling in Shane Black‘s “The Nice Guys” and alongside Amanda Seyfried in “Fathers and Daughters.” He’s represented by WME and attorney Alan Hergott.