Gold Zac Efron

Zac Efron is about to strike it rich.

The actor, who just appeared in the Netflix documentary series Down to Earth with Zac Efron earlier this year, is set to star in a survival thriller called Gold. He’ll play a man who discovers a gold nugget in the desert – but things quickly begin to go wrong from there.

Deadline reports that Efron will star in Gold, a survival thriller that’s being shopped around to potential buyers at this year’s virtual American Film Market. The plot sounds fascinating:

The film will follow two strangers traveling through a desert who stumble across the biggest gold nugget ever found. They hatch a plan to protect and excavate their bounty with one man leaving to secure the necessary equipment. The other man remains and must endure harsh desert elements, ravenous wild dogs and mysterious intruders, whilst battling the sinking suspicion that he has been abandoned to his own fate.

It sounds like this project may have been inspired by The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. John Huston’s 1948 classic stars Humphrey Bogart as a member of a three-man mining expedition who strikes it rich in the mountains – but their impressive haul immediately begins to foster rifts within their ranks, and greed and distrust ultimately tears the trio apart. That film is Huston’s commentary on avarice and desire, and Gold sounds like it could follow the cinematic tradition of exploring those ideas – albeit with more of a survival component thrown in as a twist on the classic formula.

Efron is a gifted performer who was groomed in the bowels of the Disney Channel and has since carved out an interesting career by sharpening his comedic skills, dipping into the occasional drama, and engaging with his star persona in knowing and self-deprecating ways.

Anthony Hayes is pulling quadruple duty on this one. The multi-hyphenate is directing the movie, he’s co-starring opposite Efron, he co-wrote the script with Polly Smyth (a costume designer who’s making her writing debut here), and he’s producing as well, alongside John Schwarz and Michael Schwarz. (No relation to this guy.)

“This is an exciting, gripping and timely tale about greed, humanity, who we are, what we’ve done to the world and where we are heading if we aren’t careful,” Hayes said in a statement. “To have Zac Efron as my main man on this film is an absolute gift and to see what he is creating already is like nothing we’ve seen from him before. I can’t wait to deliver this bold, visceral and cinematic film to audiences all around the world.”

Filming is scheduled to begin in Australia this month.

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