Saving three imperiled California gray whales trapped under the Arctic Circle offshore ice near Barrow, Alaska sounds like an intriguing premise for Drew Barrymore’s upcoming movie, except that it really did play out over a two week period back in 1988.

With the cooperation of everyone from the Soviet and United States governments to eco-activists, oil company executives, the military, Eskimos and the media, the rescue of the giant mammals using a Soviet icebreaker actually triggered a ‘Cold War thaw’ between Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Regan.

The details and media frenzy surrounding the rescue – documented in journalist Tom Rose’s 1989 book Freeing The Whales – will be immortalized on the big screen when Whales (a.k.a. Everybody Loves Whales) begins shooting September 16 with Barrymore portraying the Greenpeace activist at the center of the story.

In the video below, the 35 year old longtime vegetarian says that she intends to pour herself into the role, adding that “it’s a really really amazing story and I’m really excited about” doing it.

Alaskan natives and residents take note: casting directors are still seeking principal actors and crew members for the film, so take a look at the requirements and break a leg!

Via Hollywood Crush