Benedict Cumberbatch To Play Poisoned KGB Agent In HBO Miniseries ‘Londongrad’

Benedict Cumberbatch has signed on to play another real-life figure.

Having previously portrayed Julian Assange, Thomas Edison, MI6 courier Greville Wynne, politician William M. Bulger, and lawyer and immigration judge Stuart Couch, he will now play former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko in Londongrad, a stranger-than-fiction miniseries in the works at HBO.

The series will be an adaptation of Alan Cowell‘s 2008 book The Terminal Spy, and Cumberbatch will play Litvinenko, a former KGB spy and eventual defector who was mysteriously poisoned in London in 2006. 22 days after his hospitalization, he succumbed to the radioactive isotope polonium-210.

Like the book, Londongrad will depict the agent’s life story as well as the investigation into how his assassination was eventually pulled off. Bryan Fogel, who previously won an Academy Award for his 2018 documentary Icarus, will direct the series.

David Scarpa (All The Money In The World, The Man In The High Castle) is penning the script.

This is actually not the only series to revolve around Litvinenko’s suspicious death, as David Tennant signed on to star in the modestly-titled ITV drama Litvinenko back in September.

It makes sense that multiple channels are interested in telling this story, as it has an obvious hook to get people interested. Spy stories normally do well because they depict a clandestine world most of the audience are fascinated by but have no experience in. Londongrad should be not different.

Cumberbatch has had success working with HBO before. He starred in 2013 miniseries Parade’s End, which got him an Emmy nomination, and 2019 film Brexit, where he portrayed former Boris Johnson aide Dominic Cummings, which also got him a nomination. Perhaps Londongrad is the charmed third attempt which will secure the win.

Cumberbatch has got a busy end to 2021. He will next be seen playing yet another real-life figure, Louis Wain, in The Electrical Life Of Louis Wain, which hits Amazon on Friday, November 5.

He’s also starring in Jane Campion‘s likely awards contender The Power Of The Dog, which hits cinemas in November before arriving on Netflix on Wednesday, December 1.

And before the year is out, he’ll reprise his role as Doctor Strange in Spider-Man: Far From Home, which arrives Friday, December 17. He’ll also be seen in Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness next year.


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