Neil, Pearce & Otto Take 9 Weeks

Sam Neill, Guy Pearce and Miranda Otto will star in new Australian crime drama “How to Change in 9 Weeks” for Icon Films says The Hollywood Reporter.

The thriller is based on the story of a 15-year-old Australian student, Rachel Barber, who went missing in Melbourne in 1999 and was found to have been murdered by a former childhood friend, Caroline Reid.

Newcomers Kate Bell and Ruth Murphy have been cast in the key roles of Barber and Reid while Pearce and Otto will star as Rachel’s parents. Neill plays Caroline’s father, David Reid, and Rebecca Gibney plays her mother. Justine Clarke also stars.

One unusual element is that director Simone North and producer Tony Cavanaugh have enlisted Sidney Lumet to serve as a mentor for North in her debut feature as a writer-director.

Shooting begins this week in Queensland this week before moving to Melbourne. “Weeks” is scheduled for release in Australia in early 2008.