Willem Dafoe has been tapped to star in Disney’s latest live-action movie, Togo.
The film is based on the 1925 serum run to Nome, Alaska, also known as the Great Race of Mercy, in which dog-sled teams battled harsh conditions over nearly 700 miles to transport diphtheria antitoxin serum and save the town from an epidemic. Dafoe will play Leonhard Seppala who, with his dog Togo, faced the most dangerous part of the journey and faced temperatures of minus 30 degrees in gale-force winds.
This touching story of a friendship between man and dog will be directed by Ericson Core, who is best known for his work on sports film Invincible and the 2015 remake of Point Break. Screenwriter Tom Flynn has penned the script for the project, which is being produced by Yours, Mine & Ours’ Kim Zubick, and will be developed for the Disney streaming service due to launch in late 2019. Studio bosses intend to include original and exclusive movies and TV series’ in addition to its vast library.
This is not the first time the Great Race of Mercy has been brought to the big screen, as Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment production company previously helmed a 1995 animated picture called Balto, which focuses on another dog present in the event – and whose heroism is more widely known than Togo’s.
Dafoe joins the cast off the back of his third Academy Award nomination – which he received for his performance in The Florida Project – and he has recently completed filming on Dees Rees helmed flick The Last Thing He Wanted alongside Anne Hathaway and Ben Affleck.
The 62-year-old will also play acclaimed artist Vincent van Gogh when he takes to the screen in drama At Eternity’s Gate later this year (18).