Jonathan Rhys Meyers set to play Pearse in 1916 film

Cork actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers is to play political activist Pádraig Pearse in a film about the Easter Rising 1916.

Liam Neeson’s son, Micheál, will play the Irish revolutionary leader, Michael Collins, 20 years after his father performed the same role in the Neil Jordan 1996 classic, Michael Collins.

Rhys Meyers, 38, best known for his role as Henry V111 in The Tudors, played the role of Collins’ assassin in Michael Collins. He also played a leading role in the Irish civil war drama, The Wind That Shakes the Barley.

It will be Micheál’s first major role on screen. American actor, Sean Penn, has been approached about playing the role of Collins’ comrade, Thomas Clarke.

The new film, The Rising, is set for a worldwide release next year, the centenary anniversary of the Easter Rising.

Produced and co-written by Cavan film-maker Kevin McCann, it is described as a prequel to the 1996 Michael Collins and The Wind That Shakes The Barley.

Colin Morgan, best known for playing the title character in the BBC fantasy series, Merlin, will play the role of Seán Mac Diarmada.

Cork-born actor Fiona Shaw has been cast as Countess Constance Markievicz while Brendan Coyle, best known for his role as James Bates, the valet in Downton Abbey, will play the chief secretary for Ireland, Augustine Birrell.

Socialist leader, James Connolly will be played by Scottish actor David O’Hara, whose most memorable role is that of the mad Irishman, Stephen, in Braveheart.

Mr McCann produced The Boys of St Columb’s, a documentary film for RTÉ and the BBC that followed the lives of several great Irish figures, including Nobel Laureates Seamus Heaney and John Hume.

He told RTÉ presenter, Marian Finucane, that after starting work on the project in 2012 he realised that most people did know what really happened in Ireland in 1916 and why it happened.

Mr McCann said the film would focus on events from the perspective of Mac Diarmada, who has been described by some as the revolution’s mastermind.

McCann said he needed €2.5m to make the film and had secured half of the funding, mostly in the US. He planned to start filming in January or February next year in Ireland and Estonia.

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