Underground, which premieres Saturday at the Toronto International Film Festival and will air on Australia’s Network Ten later this year, is a study in how Assange became Assange. Based on Suelette Dreyfus’ 1997 book of same name, the film traces how a Melbourne teenager became a member of the hacker group International Subversives in the late 1980s and first appeared on the radar of authorities all over the world.
“There was this joke when we were working on the script that our story was like a origin story of a superhero in a way that the hero realizes that they have superpowers, but have yet to realize they can save the world with them,” director Robert Connolly, who also wrote the script, told Wired. “We were looking at the idea that here was a young man who was incredibly gifted. Where and why did he transition into a man who devoted his life to WikiLeaks?”
The film, which stars Without a Trace’s Anthony LaPaglia as a detective investigating Assange and newcomer Alex Williams as the man himself, is coming at just the right moment in time. The WikiLeaks founder is currently holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London, trying to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces questioning over alleged sex crimes and fears he will be sent to the United States, where he could face charges over WikiLeaks’s publication of classified U.S. diplomatic cables.