District 9 actor Sharlto Copley will write, direct and star in the new sci-fi comedy movie Sapien Safari. The Johannesburg born Copley this year stars opposite David Oyelowo and Charlize Theron in the comedy Gringo. The actor-director became a known quantity while working with fellow South African Neill Blomkamp on three feature films, including the Matt Damon vehicle Elysium.
Copley's first major film role was as Wikus Van De Merwe, the main protagonist of Blomkamp's District 9. Set in a futuristic dystopia, District 9 concerned government agent Van De Merwe's sudden connection with a member of a segregated alien race. Lauded for its socially conscious take on sci-fi, District 9 scored a surprise Best Picture Oscar nomination. Copley went on to voice the title character in Blomkamp's Chappie, about a stolen police droid gaining sentience. He also appeared as Murdock in The A-Team and as Stefan in Maleficent. Last year he appeared with Brie Larson in the outrageous action film Free Fire.
As reported by Deadline, Copley will next take on writing, directing and starring duties on the movie Sapien Safari. The film will receive financing from QC Entertainment, one of the companies responsible for last year's massive hit Get Out. Much like Jordan Peele's horror smash, Sapien Safari outwardly qualifies as a genre film but it also contains socially conscious elements. And like Get Out, writing and directing duties will be handled by someone previously known mostly as a performer.
Sharlto Copley sang the praises of his new backers QC entertainment, saying:
“In an increasingly risk-averse environment, the team at QC have been an enormous blessing. They have an eye for bold, edgy and original material with commercial potential. Once on board, they wholeheartedly back the filmmaker. One can’t ask for more.”
The lead character of Sapien Safari, to be played by Copley, is described as "the Steve Irwin of the galaxy." Not only does Copley's character study the galaxy's many forms of life, he also advocates for those species that are considered endangered. The movie's comedy hook? The earth has come under new alien management and Copley must argue that humanity should continue to live. Naturally, this task will prove anything but easy. A similar premise fueled the classic sci-fi movie The Day the Earth Stood Still, about an alien visitor warning humanity against nuclear proliferation.
With no feature film credits to his name as writer or director, Sharlto Copley comes to this project as a largely unknown creative quantity. But such was also the case for Jordan Peele when he made Get Out. And Get Out went on to gross $255 million worldwide while scoring four Oscar nominations. Realistically, the chances of Sapien Safari succeeding to the same degree as Get Out are remote. That said, QC seems to believe they've discovered a formula for success with these movies: hand resources to a new writer-director with an interesting idea and let him go. If Sharlo Copley gets stuck, he can always call on his old friend Neill Blomkamp for help. Of course, some would argue Blomkamp should be the one getting the directing projects thrown his way instead of Copley.