Dafoe joins Disney’s Sled Dog movie Togo
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Willem Dafoe has signed on for Togo, a live action film about the 1925 serum run to Nome Alaska made famous in the Seymour Reit book Race Against Death: A True Story of the Far North and the 1995 animated movie Balto. The film is being developed to premiere exclusively on Disney’s upcoming streaming service.
Dafoe will play Leonard Seppala, the owner and sled driver of Togo who rode the longest and most dangerous part of the journey. Balto and his driver Gunnar Kaasen rode the final leg of the journey, ultimately delivering diphtheria serum to stave off the epidemic in Nome. As a result, their contributions to the journey became much more well-known than those of other dogs and drivers.
Seppala on the other hand went on to win an Olympic silver medal in the 1932 winter Olympics when sled dog racing was introduced as a demonstration sport, as well as defeating the famed dog “Chinook” in an exhibition race. He would go on to do his best to get Togo’s accomplishments recognized, to no avail. There is a video of Seppala from the Alaska film archives on Youtube, and the resemblance he bears to Dafoe is rather striking.
The film will be directed by Ericson Core (Point Break, Invincible) based on a script by Tom Flynn (Gifted, Watch It).
With streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime investing heavily into creating original content featuring A list stars, it was a matter of time before Disney’s new streaming service would follow suit. They have already announced the creation of television shows based on the High School Musical, Monsters Inc and Marvel franchises, as well as declaring that their streaming site will be the exclusive streaming home of the upcoming Frozen sequel and Toy Story 4. Togo will likely be the first of many high profile films from the service.
(Photo credit: Getty Images)