The filming of ‘The Leader,’ starring Tim Blake Nelson and Vera Farmiga, is set to begin in Kentucky later this year. The biographical thriller tells the real-life story of cult leaders Bonnie Nettles and Marshall Applewhite and follows “39 members of Heaven’s Gate — an American UFO cult that believed its followers could transform into immortal extraterrestrials and would ascend to heaven — and how they would commit the largest mass suicide to ever take place on American soil,” as per the official logline.
Kentucky, where the production of the film is going to take place, has previously served as a filming location for a number of projects, including ‘Bones and All,’ ‘The Insider,’ ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer,’ ‘The Ides of March,’ ‘The Old Man & the Gun,’ ‘Above Suspicion,’ and ‘Act of Valor.’ The state has also hosted the filming of ‘Don’t Tell a Soul,’ ‘The Art of Self-Defense,’ ‘Where Hope Grows,’ ‘The Return of the Living Dead,’ and ‘River Runs Red.’
‘The Leader’ is written and directed by Michael Gallagher, known for helming ‘The Thinning’ franchise and the 2018 comedy-drama ‘Funny Story’. The director is also famous for his work on the web shows ‘PBC,’ ‘The Real Bros of Simi Valley,’ and ‘How to Survive High School.’ “‘The Leader’ will depict the Heaven’s Gate tragedy through the lens of hope and heartbreak. It is a film about the dangers of self-deception, the thirst for human connection, and the mystery of faith,” the filmmaker revealed about the project in a statement.
The film stars ‘The Conjuring’ actress Vera Farmiga as Bonnie Nettles, aka ‘Ti’. The acclaimed actress is also known for her role in the 2009 film ‘Up in the Air,’ for which she earned nominations for Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and BAFTA Awards. Her other famous acting credits include ‘Nothing But the Truth,’ ‘Down to the Bone,’ ‘The Departed,’ ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas,’ ‘The Front Runner,’ and ‘The Many Saints of Newark.’
Farmiga is joined by Tim Blake Nelson, who stars as Marshall Applewhite, aka ‘Do.’ The actor is widely recognized for playing Buster Scruggs in ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,’ Gideon in ‘Minority Report,’ Richard Schell in ‘Lincoln,’ and Samuel Sterns in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The rest of the cast of the film has not been announced yet. Speaking about his collaboration with Farmiga and Nelson, writer-director Gallagher said, “Vera Farmiga and Tim Blake Nelson are two of the finest actors working today. We are honored to partner with them to tell this incredible story.”
‘The Leader’ is produced by Cinemand in association with Balcony 9 Productions. Michael Gallagher, Jana Winternitz, and Michael Wormser serve as producers from Cinemand, along with Joel David Moore and Max Osswald from Balcony 9 Productions. The executive producers include Rishi Bajaj and Daniel Taborga from Balcony 9 Productions, with Cassian Elwes, Evan Silverberg, and Entertainment 360.