Noomi Rapace has signed on to play Mossad’s most famous female agent in the action-drama Sylvia. The project will re-team her with director Vicky Jewson. The duo previously worked together on the action film Close, which premiered on Netflix in January.
In Sylvia, Rapace will play Sylvia Rafael, a South African-born agent who rose to prominence within Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad. She was noted for her intelligence work in locating Ali Hassan Salameh, the leader of Palestine’s Black September organisation and the figure behind the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
However, the mission led to her involvement in the Lillehammer affair, an infamous incident in which an innocent Moroccan waiter was mistakenly identified as Salameh and killed by Sylvia’s team. She was subsequently tried and imprisoned in Norway, before dying in South Africa in 2005.
Jewson is co-writing the script alongside her writing partner, Rupert Whitaker. It’s reportedly inspired by Ram Oren and Moti Kfir‘s book Sylvia Rafael: The Life And Death Of A Mossad Spy. Kfir was a former Mossad agent who trained Rafael.
Jewson said of the film: “What is so enticing about this project is the opportunity to tell the true story of an extraordinary woman, who sacrificed a huge part of her life for a country that was not originally her own.
“I am keen to explore the unique personality of someone who put their life at risk on a daily basis and lived under a permanent dual identity, searching beyond the often glamorously perceived title of ‘spy’ to the gritty reality of this life and what drove her”.
While Close wasn’t received particularly well, it didn’t have an interesting story like this as its backbone. Jewson and Rapace have a lot of intrigue to play with here, and could turn Sylvia into a truly fascinating examination of loyalty and espionage within the trappings of the action genre.
WestEnd Films are developing the project under their female-skewed WeLove banner. They are shopping the film at this week’s Cannes Film Festival.