The upcoming Teutonic retelling of Moby-Dick has its Ahab: William Hurt has signed on to play the megamaniacal, peg-legged captain of the whaler Pequod, and Ethan Hawke has inked to play Starbuck, the first officer who is just about the only sailor who defies him.

Based on Herman Melville's 1851 novel, the miniseries is being produced by Herbert Kloiber's Tele Munchen and is being called the most expensive project in the German company's 40-year history. The budget is clocking at $25 million.

Germany's RTL, Austria's ORF and Robert Halmi's RHI Entertainment have boarded as partners on the project. Further foreign sales of the miniseries should take place in Cannes during the upcoming Mipcom TV trade show. There is no U.S. deal in place.

Shooting begins in Lunenburg on the east coast of Canada in mid-September and continues thereafter in Malta. Producers envision CGI animation as well as action scenes on the high seas.

Moby Dick is produced by Rikolt von Gagern, whose company Gate Film recently produced for Tele Munchen Jack London's Sea Wolf starring Sebastian Koch, Tim Roth and Neve Campbell. Also back on board for the screen adaptation of the Melville classic is Sea Wolf director Mike Barker and script writer Nigel Williams, who penned the TV series Elizabeth I.