Russell Crowe, Nicholas Hoult down for new Ned Kelly film

Russell Crowe, Nicholas Hoult and Essie Davis head a strong cast in a film adaptation of Peter Carey's Booker Prize-winning novel True History of the Kelly Gang that will shoot in Victoria early next year.

Justin Kurzel???, who made his name with Snowtown then went on to shoot Macbeth and Assassin's Creed, will direct a script by Snowtown collaborator Shaun Grant, with Carey one of the film's executive producers.

Alongside Crowe (seen most recently in The Nice Guys and The Mummy), Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road) and Davis (Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries), English actor George MacKay (Captain Fantastic) will play Kelly.

His connections with Australian film include appearing in Scott Hicks' The Boys Are Back in 2009 and, just recently, playing Hamlet opposite Daisy Ridley in Claire McCarthy's Ophelia in Prague.

The cast of the gothic western - based on a fictionalised autobiography of the country's most famous bushranger - includes Dacre Montgomery (Stranger Things), Travis Fimmel??? (Vikings), Sean Keenan (Wake In Fright), Thomasin McKenzie (Shortland Street) and the offspring of two well-known performers - Hugo Weaving's son Harry Greenwood (Hacksaw Ridge) and Nick Cave's son Earl Cave (Born to Kill).

"Peter Carey's book ... always felt like the true spirit of Ned Kelly," Kurzel said. "Unsentimental, brutal, raw and visceral.

"His story is one of the great odysseys in history and I feel excited to be bringing it to the screen with a fresh cinematic eye."

The film continues a long fascination with Ned Kelly by Australian filmmakers dating back more than a century.

Australia's first feature film - and possibly the world's - was the silent The Story of the Kelly Gang in 1906.

And there have been at least nine movies and four television shows about the country's most famous bushranger since then, with Kelly being played by Mick Jagger, John Waters, John Jarratt???, Yahoo Serious, Abe Forsyth and Heath Ledger in the past four decades.

Around the time Ledger was shooting 2003's Ned Kelly, Irish director Neil Jordan (The Crying Game) had the film rights to Carey's novel.

In June this year, director Matthew Holmes (The Legend of Ben Hall) attempted to reach an ambitious crowdfunding target of $2.5 million to make yet another film about the bushranger, The Legend of Ned Kelly.

In other Australian film news, Roadshow Films has bought Australian rights to director Rachel Griffiths' Melbourne Cup film Ride Like A Girl, which is also due to start principal photography next March.

Teresa Palmer will play Michelle Payne, with Sam Neill as her father, Paddy Payne, and Jacki Weaver as manager Joan Sadler.

This story Russell Crowe, Nicholas Hoult down for new Ned Kelly film first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.