Australian actor and relative unknown Ben Mendelsohn has been cast as the third part of the love triangle in the outback epic Australia, according to the Sydney Morning Herald and the official Australia fan site. Mendelsohn's role is assumed to be that of the doomed husband of Lady Sarah Ashley, the character being played by Nicole Kidman. The film, which is budgeted at $153 million, tells the story of Ashley, a married English aristocrat who moves to a homestead in the Australian outback called Faraway Downs (an earlier title for the film) and becomes involved with a cattle drover, played by Hugh Jackman. The film's primary antagonist, Neil Fletcher, who is some kind of land-grabbing businessman type, will be played by David Wenham. The characters are thought to become caught up in the Japanese invasion of Darwin, Australia in the third act.
More casting confirmations: Australian actors Barry Otto, Lillian Crombie, Ursula Yovich, David Ngoombujarra and David Gulpilil have also been added to the roster, and production in the city of Bowen (which is doubling for Darwin) is scheduled to begin in earnest on May 14. "At the moment they are building an entire set to represent Darwin during WWII. That's well and truly under way and it looks amazing," the town's tourism manager told the Sydney paper. The paper also picked up some random tidbits about the production, including that a) some shooting will be done in the Kununurra region of Western Australia, b) one of the film's big set pieces will be the driving of 1,000 head of cattle through the Bowen/Darwin town square and c) Kidman and Jackman are traveling with "heavy" security details and Kidman's muscle has already roughed up a cameraman from a local news station who got too close.