CANNES, May 19 — Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe is set to star in the epic story of a white anti-apartheid activist who escaped from one of South Africa’s toughest jails, the film’s producers said today.
The breakout thriller Escape from Pretoria is based on Tim Jenkin’s account of his dramatic escape from the notorious Pretoria Maximum Security Prison with his friend Stephen Lee in 1979.
Jenkin, now 68, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for handing out leaflets supporting the then banned African National Congress.
But the following year he managed to make a set of wooden keys for a series of doors inside the jail, which housed the country’s death row.
Using a device made from a broom handle and a mirror he had hidden in his cell, Jenkin opened his cell door and then freed his neighbour and friend Lee.
Both managed to slip out of the tightly guarded prison and eventually flee to London.
Producer David Barron, who also worked on the Harry Potter films, said the movie of this “astonishing true story” would be “political without being polemical”.
“Escape from Pretoria is a rare combination of genre and drama, and I am delighted to bring together the potent combination of Daniel Radcliffe and Francis Annan,” he added, as the film was launched at the Cannes film festival.
Annan, a rising young black British director, also wrote the script for the film, which will be shot in South Africa next year.
Radcliffe, 27, has also been signed up to play the lead in the action comedy Guns Akimbo, which was also unveiled at Cannes. — AFP