Armie Hammer and Mads Mikkelsen have signed on to star in a cold war drama titled The Billion Dollar Spy, based on the true story of how one Soviet Engineer and his CIA handler risked their lives to help bring an end to the Cold War.
Hammer will play Brad Reid, newly arrived at the CIA’s Moscow station when he’s approached by Soviet engineer Adolf Tolkachev. Although his bosses have told him that Tolkachev is secretly a part of the KGB, the two develop a unique bond and Reid seeks to help Tolkachev and his family escape the corruption within the Soviet Union.
Reid’s faith in Tolkachev is rewarded when he hands over a treasure trove of military secrets, which earns Tolkachev the nickname ‘The Billion Dollar Spy’ and alters the balance of power between East and West. But their successful evading of the KGB comes at great personal cost to both men and their families.
Tolkachev was a tremendous reporting asset to the CIA for nearly a decade, providing plans, specifications and test results on existing and planned Soviet aircraft and missiles. Some intelligence historians have called him the greatest spy since Oleg Penkovsky (known for informing the UK about the Soviet emplacement of missiles in Cuba). His portrait still hangs at CIA headquarters.
Amma Asante will direct the film from Benjamin August‘s script, who adapted the book of the same name by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David E. Hoffman. Walden Media is developing the project with the help of Akiva Goldsman and Greg Lessans of Weed Road Pictures. CAA Media Finance and Endeavor Content will oversee the U.S sale, while HanWay Films will handle international sales.
HanWay’s Gabrielle Stewart said in a statement: “August has brilliantly mined Hoffman’s detailed account of the Billion Dollar Spy and delivered a screenplay that will thrill all the fans of analog spycraft. […] Asante’s imprint is right here, and along with her very talented actors, she has the opportunity to give us a completely fresh and multi-layered perspective on the Cold War thriller”.
Mikkelsen has a supporting role alongside Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley in Chaos Walking, which we’ll see whenever that eventually arrives after absurd production troubles, while his latest collaboration with Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round, won Best Film at the (virtual) London Film Festival a few weeks ago.
Hammer just starred in Ben Wheatley‘s Rebecca reimagining on Netflix, and he’ll next be seen in Death On The Nile and Taika Waititi‘s Next Goal Wins. He also just signed on to star opposite Jennifer Lopez in the romcom Shotgun Wedding, while he will also star in a Watergate miniseries titled Gaslit.
Asante has previously directed Belle and A United Kingdom, while she’s also directed episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale and Mrs. America. Production on The Billion Dollar Spy is expected to begin sometime next year in Eastern Europe.