Actor Craig McLachlan has signed on to star in a film about a lost village at the bottom of Cataract Dam, and it couldn't have come at a better time, he said.
Test scenes have surfaced from Sherbrooke Down: Valley of Tears, a month after the star confessed on Channel 7 that his mental health and career have been in disarray following a trial for indecent assault.
"Life is challenging. We exist in troubling times. But I have to say, sharing a fabulous, fun, creative and collaborative day with [filmmaker James Stewart Keene] and his terrific team was just wonderful," McLachlan said.
In 2019, the 58-year-old was charged with seven counts of indecent assault and six of common law assault against four women who starred with him in the stage production of Rocky Horror Show. The following year he was cleared of all charges, but the "profound hurt" has remained.
He also went through a civil court case for defamation against media organisations Fairfax Media [now Nine] and the ABC.
Keene hoped casting McLachlan in the role of Charles Grey in the period drama would help reignite his acting career.
"As a creative, I look up to him. He's achieved a lot in music and his acting career," he said of his mate McLachlan, who were introduced by a mutual friend.
Sherbrooke was a short-lived settlement in a place previously known as Bulli Mountain and has been submerged for more than 100 years after it was seized for the construction of Cataract Dam in the early 20th Century.
Keene's great-grandmother Evangeline (played by Dillman) was part of the settlement and is at the center of the upcoming movie.
Through more than a decade of research, Keene has uncovered the drowned village was a prosperous orchard and timber town, it housed 100 people and 22 families before a series of disasters - flood, drought and flood again - wiped it from the map.
McLachlan isn't the first notable name linked to the project.
In 2021, soapie actors Tim Robards, Patrick O'Connor and Sophie Dillman were part of a "proof of concept" short film, Road To Cataract, which was a prequel to the current film in pre-production.
Keene said full production was expected to commence in late 2024 in locations around the Illawarra, Southern Highlands, Cataract Dam and the Hawkesbury region.