Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder and television host, is no stranger to drama. With 23 credits on IMDB and an Oscar nomination for the short documentary Collateral Murder, he outranks many a would-be star.
Including the one playing him.
Newcomer Alex Williams has zero IMDB credits, but now he has the attention of the world. He’ll be playing a young Julian Assange in the made-for-TV movie Underground, which focuses on Assange’s early years of recreational hacking in the late ‘80s as a founding member of the International Subversives group.
The government took a dim view of Assange’s exploits and had him arrested. The case took years to investigate and bring to trial, during which the teenage Assange married, fathered a son, and then engaged in a lengthy custody battle when his wife left with the boy. When the hacking case finally did go to trial, he pled guilty to 25 charges of hacking, was fined $2000 with no prison time, and released. He went on to an itinerant existence as a roving computer security specialist.
In other words, it’s rich fodder for dramatists.
The 21-year-old Williams has been upstaged in the press by his more established costars Anthony LaPaglia, who will be playing a cop who pursues the youthful hacker, and Rachel Griffiths, who plays Christine Assange, Julian’s mother. On Twitter, Christine indicated she had no input into the casting, and WikiLeaks had no comment.
“Underground is the incredible, true story of a group of schoolboys in Melbourne who were hacking into the some of the biggest corporate and military organizations in the world, at the dawn of the internet age," producer Helen Bowden said in a statement. "It is a fascinating tale and we are very excited to be bringing it to the screen.”
Filming began on Tuesday in Melbourne and the movie will be released on the Australian network Ten sometime this fall. It’s anticipated that it will air on NBC sometime after that, as NBC has a financial stake in the production company.
Photo by Abode of Chaos