Full Cast Announced For Steven Spielberg's War Horse

Over the past week there have been several rumors about the possible lead casting for Steven Spielberg's new film War Horse, which is based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo and the successful play based upon the book. English actor Eddie Redmayne was said to have one of the lead roles, and Tom Hiddleston the other. Based on current info, it looks like Hiddleston is in the mix, but has yet to sign. Rather than going to Redmayne, however, the lead role of Albert has gone to relative unknown Jeremy Irvine.

Empire has the entire cast set out, and there are (as you'd expect) some great names in the mix.

The surprise is Jeremy Irvine in the lead as Albert, the young man whose horse, Joey, is sold off to the French Calvalry, leading Albert to brave the trenches of WWI to try to reunite with the animal. Irvine has no feature credits; he's done stage work and a stint on a UK Disney Channel show called Life Bites.

Emily Watson plays his mother and Peter Mullan (a favorite of mine) is his father. The great David Thewlis is Lyons, while Benedict Cumberbatch and Stephen Graham play British military characters. Tom Hiddleston is negotiating to play Captain Nichols, while Celine Buckens and Niels Arestrup play a French girl and her grandfather who encounter Albert.

Also in the cast are David Kross, Patrick Kennedy, Rainer Bock, Nicolas Bro, Leonar Carow and Robert Emmms.

In general, I love the supporting cast: Thewlis, Mullan and Watson are always reliable. Arestrup can be amazing, and it's good to see Stephen Graham booking these high-profile pictures. He's done big movies in the past, but between this and Pirates of the Caribbean, in which he seems to have a big role, he's going to be known by a lot more people.  Jeremy Irvine is kind of the unknown, but I'll trust Spielberg on that point — he's been pretty good in finding talent in the past.

Here's a recap of the play based on the novel, which has been running with great success in London since 2007:

At the outbreak of World War I, Joey, young Albert's beloved horse, is sold to the cavalry and shipped to France. He's soon caught up in enemy fire; death, disease and fate take him on an extraordinary odyssey, serving on both sides before finding himself alone in No man's land. But Albert cannot forget Joey and, still not old enough to enlist, he embarks on a dangerous mission to find him and bring him home.