Hilary Swank

Hilary Swank

Hilary Swank and Brenda Blethyn are to star in a film for Comic Relief.

The 'Million Dollar Baby' star and the veteran actress will appear in 'Mary & Martha' - which is being written by Richard Curtis and directed by 'Salt's Phillip Noyce - which tells the tale of two women who lose their sons to malaria.

British Mary (Brenda) takes her young son George (Lux Hanley Jardine) to Africa, where he contracts the disease, while Martha's son Ben (Sam Claflin) dies while working in Mozambique, prompting his mother (Hilary) to return to the US to raise awareness of the disease.

Meanwhile Mary volunteers at the orphanage where Ben worked.

The two women eventually join forces to try and make a difference to the world.

Writer Richard said: "I've always wanted to write a film about the fact that when you have children, there's always the possibility of extreme joy and extreme sorrow. And over the years working with Comic Relief, I have come across the tragedy of the startling number of lives taken by malaria every year. This film gives me a chance to write about that too - as well as working with a team of people I hugely admire - Brenda Blethyn, Hilary Swank and the great Australian director, Phillip Noyce."

Hilary and Brenda are both thrilled to be appearing in the movie, which will air on BBC One.

Hilary said: "I've long admired Phillip's work and we've been wanting to work together for years. I look forward to working with them and the fantastic Brenda Blethyn on this special film."

Brenda added: "I'm thrilled to be working with the wonderfully inspiring director Phillip Noyce, and to be sharing the screen with the classy and totally brilliant Hilary Swank. What more do you need to know?"

Danny Cohen, Controller of BBC One, says: "A world class mix of talent has been assembled for Richard Curtis' new film for BBC One, a story that is heartbreaking and uplifting all at once - and one that I'm humbled to be in a position to commission as part of the channel's Comic Relief schedule for 2013."

Filming began this week and is taking place in America and South Africa.