Two-Hour Feature Film Recounts the True Story of the Sinking of The Essex, Which Inspired Melville’s Classic, Moby Dick

(Beverly Hills, CA) For millennia, whales dominated the world’s oceans as millions of the majestic animals swam unchallenged and unthreatened. But the tide turned in recent centuries as man’s rampant and irresponsible whaling practices have left many species on the verge of extinction. This fall, Animal Planet travels back in history to 1820 to share the epic tale of a whale that would exact its revenge against one Nantucket whaling ship and its crew.

Animal Planet’s THE WHALE, premiering this fall, is a two-hour scripted feature based on the true accounts of one of history’s most haunting stories of survival: the sinking of the whaling ship The Essex. The story which inspired Melville’s classic Moby Dick, stars Martin Sheen as Old Thomas Nickerson – a man recounting his experiences as a naïve cabin boy aboard the doomed whaling ship. Nickerson shares epic tales of battling brutal storms and crippling waves, surviving the scorching sun, and surviving the grueling hunger that foreshadows cannibalism and the full weight of the whale’s revenge.

“For years, Animal Planet has chronicled the whale’s modern-day fight for survival on the Emmy®-nominated series WHALE WARS,” says Rick Holzman, general manager and executive vice president of Animal Planet. “THE WHALE takes viewers back to a time when man’s greed was in the process of decimating what had been a very plentiful species – and creating today’s need for conservation.”

Sheen leads a talented cast, along with Charles Furness (24: Live Another Day) as young Tom Nickerson and John Boyega (Star Wars: Episode VII) as Bond. THE WHALE also features Jonas Armstrong (Robin Hood, The Street) as First Mate Owen Chase; Adam Rayner (The Hunted) as Captain Pollard; Paul Kaye (Game of Thrones, Stella) as Joy; David Gyasi (Cloud Atlas, War Horse) as Peterson; Jolyon Coy (The Hollow Crown) as Lawrence; as well as Jassa Ahluwalisa and Ferdinand Kingsley. The film is a BBC Factual Productions and Animal Planet drama inspired by Chase and Pollard’s real-life accounts of the ship’s sinking. These memoirs are said to have inspired Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and the basis for the nonfiction book, In the Heart of the Sea, by Nathaniel Philbrick.

THE WHALE is a production of BBC Factual Productions with Animal Planet and is executive produced by Eamon Hardy and Ruth Caleb with Mike Dormer as the producer. For Animal Planet, Mick Kaczorowski is the executive producer.  THE WHALE was filmed on location in England and Malta, which is home to the world-renowned Mediterranean outdoor water SFX facility with tanks that are amongst the largest in the world.

Animal Planet Media (APM), a multi-media business unit of Discovery Communications, is the world’s only entertainment brand that immerses viewers in the full range of life in the animal kingdom with rich, deep content via multiple platforms and offers animal lovers and pet owners access to a centralized online, television and mobile community for immersive, engaging, high-quality entertainment, information and enrichment. APM consists of the Animal Planet television network, available in more than 94 million homes in the US; online assets, the ultimate online destination for all things animal; the 24/7 broadband channel, Animal Planet Beyond; and other media platforms including a robust Video-on-Demand (VOD) service; mobile content; and merchandising extensions.