EXCLUSIVE: Ming-Na Wen (The Book of Boba Fett) and Esai Morales (Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning – Part One) have signed on to star alongside Brianna Hildebrand (Deadpool) in the long-gestating sci-fi thriller Persephone, from director Jeffrey Morris (Oceanus: Act One).
Morris’ first feature follows refugees from a dying earth, who are traveling aboard an enormous space vessel called Odyssey. Their destination is Proxima b—a planet orbiting the nearest star. When a crew is dispatched to repair a shield designed to protect their colony from deadly solar flares, a computer malfunction causes them to crash-land on the alien planet. The crew then discover that they may not be the only life on this hostile world. A mystery unfolds that may not only derail their mission, but also prevent the colonists from ever setting foot on the planet.
Morris penned the script, also co-authoring a companion novel with New York Times bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson (Prelude to Dune). He will also produce via his FutureDude Entertainment, alongside Anne Marie Gillen (Fried Green Tomatoes), Jorge Heredia (Que Pasa Miami?), and the duo of Jane Fleming and Mark Ordesky (The Quest). Cassian Elwes (Dallas Buyers Club) and Jere Hausfater (Robots) will exec produce, with Anderson serving as co-executive producer, and Jasmin Espada (Free Dead or Alive) as co-producer. Highland Film Group is handling international rights, and will launch sales at the upcoming Cannes Marché du Film.
“I’m tremendously honored and excited to be working with this amazing cast and crew to enact a singular vision of the future,” said Morris. “Through our collaboration, the goal is to create a sense of realism and exploration that is far beyond the typical sci-fi space adventure.”
“We were immediately captivated by the ambition and integrity of Jeffrey’s vision,” said Fleming and Ordesky in a joint statement. “The world building is so rigorously researched and richly imagined, it feels like stepping into a real future. And the struggle for co-existence that animates Persephone could not be more vital or timely.”
“From my very first conversation with writer/director Jeffrey Morris, I knew we had a connection. He had already written an excellent, gritty Sci-Fi script, and our brainstorming brought it even more to life,” added Anderson. “Persephone is filled with incredible ideas, and I love being a part of it.”
Morris previously directed the sci-fi shorts Parallel Man: Infinite Pursuit and Oceanus: Act One, which are available for streaming on Gunpowder & Sky’s genre streaming service, Dust.
Wen has portrayed bounty hunter Fennec Shand on the Star Wars series The Mandalorian and The Bad Batch, and will soon reprise the role on Disney+’s The Book of Boba Fett. The actress will also soon feature in the second season of HBO Max’s hit comedy series Hacks, HBO Max’s animated series Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai and Tom Gustafson’s film Glitter & Doom. She has previously appeared in both animated and live-action versions of Mulan, as well as films including Ralph Breaks the Internet, The Darkness, Push, Prom Night, The Joy Luck Club and Street Fighter. Additional TV credits include Young Sheldon, Yasuke, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Stargate Universe.
Morales will also soon be seen in the seventh and eighth installments of the Mission Impossible franchise, as well as Paul Schrader’s thriller Master Gardener. He’s previously appeared in such films as SuperFly, Gun Hill Road and Fast Food Nation, among many others. His TV credits include How to Get Away with Murder, Titans, Ozark, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, The Brink, Magic City and Jericho.
Hildebrand played Negasonic Teenage Warhead in the first two Deadpool films, and has also been seen in features including Playing with Fire, Tragedy Girls and First Girl I Loved. Her TV credits include Lucifer, Trinkets and The Exorcist.
Wen is represented by Link Entertainment and Innovative Artists; Morales by Link Entertainment, Vault Entertainment, Innovative Artists and Eric Feig Entertainment & Media Law; Hildebrand by ICM Partners; and Heredia by Aquos Entertainment Group.