Christopher Walken, Christina Ricci in Winnipeg to shoot movie based on Sask. farmer's fight with Monsanto

Christopher Walken stars as Saskatchewan canola farmer Percy Schmeiser in Percy, a movie based on Schmeiser's 1998 Supreme Court of Canada battle against American agri-giant Monsanto.

Manitoba-born actor Adam Beach also cast in Percy, film based on Percy Schmeiser's true story

Christopher Walken and Christina Ricci are starring in Percy, a movie being filmed in Winnipeg. (Scythia Films)

One of Hollywood's biggest stars is in Winnipeg to take on the role of a small-town Prairie farmer in the new film Percy, which is currently shooting in the city.

Academy Award-winner Christopher Walken plays Percy Schmeiser, a Saskatchewan canola farmer who was sued by American biotech giant Monsanto, in the movie.

The original screenplay was written by Hilary Pryor and Garfield L. Miller and is being produced by Scythia Films.

Christina Ricci is also in the movie, playing Rebecca Salcau, an activist fighting against genetically modified organisms.

Manitoba-born actor Adam Beach is set to play Percy's neighbour, while Canadian actors Roberta Maxwell and Luke Kirby will take on the roles of Schmeiser's wife and son.

Martin Donovan and Peter Stebbings will also take on supporting roles.

Fight went to Supreme Court

Schmeiser received a letter from Monsanto on Aug. 6, 1998, notifying him he was being sued by Monsanto for patent violation. The company's genetically modified canola, which is resistant to its weedkiller, Roundup, was found growing on his farm. 

Schmeiser argued those seeds landed on his land by accident and therefore he owned them because they were on his property.

Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser fought a losing court battle against American agri-giant Monsanto. (Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward)

Since Schmeiser never bought the company's Roundup Ready seeds, Monsanto claimed he knowingly harvested and re-grew their stolen property. 

While some farmers use seeds from one year's crop for the next year, Roundup Ready must be bought every year.

The case was heard at the Federal Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. In the end, the SCC sided with Monsanto in a five-to-four decision. However, each party had to pay their own legal expenses.

The film recreates Schmeiser's battle.

Filming will also take place in Mumbai, India and surrounding areas.

Clarifications

  • An earlier version of this story indicated that typically, farmers use seeds from one year's crop for the next year. In fact, some farmers do so.
    Sep 06, 2018 1:47 PM CT