Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers has been cast as Sir James Brooke in Rajah, the Hollywood production based on Sarawak’s first Rajah Brooke.
Rhys Meyers is best known for his roles in The Tudors and Vikings, as well as films such as Velvet Goldmine, Bend It Like Beckham, Match Point and Mission: Impossible III.
In a phone interview from Kuching with StarLifestyle, Rajah producer Rob Allyn said that the movie will also star several Malaysian and Indonesian actors.
Bront Palarae and Shahezy Sam and Rahim Razali will be playing major roles in the movie, which will also feature Sarawakian actors Peter John and Kahar Jimi.
Bront will play the Pengiran Indera Mahkota who was Brooke’s principal rival for power, Shaheizy plays Subu, Brooke’s lifetime Malay companion, while Rahim will play the Sultan of Brunei.
“Indonesian actress Atiquah Hasiholan will be playing Fatima, Brooke’s love interest,” Allyn said. Yusuf Mahardika and Samo Rafael are the other Indonesian actors in the cast.
According to an article by The Hollywood Reporter, the movie will also star Hong Kong actress Josie Ho as Madame Lim, Brooke’s former lover, and Dominic Monaghan (who played the hobbit Merry in the acclaimed Lord Of the Rings trilogy) as Colonel Arthur Crookshank, Brooke’s cousin and comrade-in-arms.
The picture is made with the support of the Sarawak Tourism Board and the Film In Malaysia Incentive’s rebate on Qualifying Malaysian Production Expenditure. The Brooke Heritage Trust serves as the film’s technical advisory.
“We’ve taken over the whole Borneo 744 complex in Kuching for our workshops, production offices and sound stages,” Allyn added.
The movie is directed by Michael Haussman, an award-winning music director who is known for his work with the likes of Madonna, Justin Timberlake and Selena Gomez.
Shooting for the film begins on September 24 and is estimated to end at the end of October.
Brooke was also the real life role model for Rudyard Kipling’s short story A Man Who Would Be King and Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim. There had been previous attempts to make a White Rajah movie, including one by the legendary actor Errol Flynn in 1936.