In "Satan is Real," they'll portray influential country musicians Charlie and Ira Louvin.
Hawke described the brothers' sound as "both violent and beautiful... It’s aggressive, it’s electric, it’s strange.. It’s not wannabe cool guy country. It’s hillbilly gospel music."
It's not clear who'll be playing which brother, but Charlie was the upright, churchgoing man while brother Ira "had the devil in him" and was known for smashing his mandolin to splinters onstage.
"They’re singing these songs and then backstage they’re taking speed and hitting on girls and beating the s**t out of each other," said Hawke. He compared the Louvin brothers' dynamic to that of the LaMotta brothers in "Raging Bull."
Besides their music, the Louvin Brothers are known for the meme-able cover of their 1959 album "Satan is Real."
Phil Morrison, who previously worked with Nivola on "Junebug" will direct.
The two actors have been recording some of the Louvin Brothers songs ahead of Cannes.: "We wanted to show the financiers that we can do it and it will be good,” said Hawke.
The two became friends in 2010 when Nivola starred in the Off Broadway revival of a Sam Shepard play that Hawke directed. Now, they're neighbors in Brooklyn. "We like to drink beer and play guitar,” said Nivola. “Now we’ll be doing it for work."
Last year, Hawke directed the movie "Blaze," about unsung Texas songwriter Blaze Foley. He's played musicians both real (jazz trumpeter Chet Baker in "Born to be Blue") and fictitious (reclusive indie rocker Tucker Crowe in "Juliet, Naked").
Nissola is currently filming "The Sopranos" prequel, "The Many Saints of Newark."