Russell Crowe is back in the director’s chair amidst a strict lockdown in Sydney, Australia. According to Variety, the Academy Award-winning actor, who previously directed The Water Diviner in 2014, has taken up the reins to direct a second film under intense COVID-19 safety protocols in his home country.
The film, titled Poker Face, follows a tech billionaire who finds himself caught up in the world of high stakes poker and international finance.
Crowe is also set to star in the film, alongside Liam Hemsworth, Elsa Pataky, and RZA, Wu-Tang Clan frontman and longtime friend of Crowe’s. Originally set in Miami, production was moved to Sydney in order to showcase the city’s impressive landmarks as a background for the risky game Crowe’s billionaire has found himself ensnared in.
Production continues on the film despite strict lockdowns for the whole of Sydney, the most intense since the start of the pandemic era in 2020. Crowe’s Poker Face crew joins stars like Nicole Kidman and Natalie Portman in keeping the city on the film production map despite tough safety restrictions. (Kidman has been in Sydney shooting Roar for Apple TV+, while Portman has been in the country since September filming Thor: Love and Thunder and HBO’s Days of Abandonment). Sydney is expected to remain in lockdown until the end of August, though how much that limits Poker Face’s production is uncertain.
“We are very appreciative to have the opportunity to safely film in Australia alongside the talented people who live and work in the country,” said executive producers Maggie Betts, Celine Rattray, Sophie Mas, and Len Amato in a statement.
Little else is known about the plot of Poker Face, though it was reported by local press that Pataky — wife of Thor star Chris Hemsworth — is set to play the glamorous croupier in charge of the film’s deadly poker game. The film’s screenplay is written by Stephen M. Coates, and no release has been announced.