Mads Mikkelsen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Casino Royale, The Hunt, and TV’s Hannibal) and Armie Hammer (The Social Network, Call Me by Your Name, On The Basis of Sex and upcoming Death on the Nile)have been confirmed to star in Amma Asante’s The Billion Dollar Spy, based on the incredible true story of how one Soviet Engineer and his CIA handler risked their lives to help bring an end to the Cold War. British writer-director Asante first earned a BAFTA award for writing and directing Way of Life and her unique take on The Billion Dollar Spy will bring a fresh perspective to the Cold War genre, combining the world of analog spy craft with an intimate look at the spies’ personal lives. Asante is also well known for having directed Belle, A United Kingdom and more recently episodes for the Emmy award winning series Mrs. America and The Handmaid’s Tale. The Billion Dollar Spy was developed and produced by Walden Media and is produced by Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Akiva Goldsman (Upcoming Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, A Beautiful Mind) and Greg Lessans through Weed Road Pictures.
HanWay Films has come on board to handle international sales and distribution and will commence sales at the upcoming American Film Market. CAA Media Finance and Endeavor Content will oversee the U.S sale. Walden Media’s President and CEO Frank Smith and Executive Vice President of Development and Production Naia Cucukov will executive produce. The film will go into production 2021 in Eastern Europe.
Brad Reid (Hammer) is a fresh arrival at the Moscow station of the CIA when he’s approached by Soviet engineer Adolf Tolkachev (Mikkelsen). Ignoring the advice from his bosses that Tolkachev is an obvious KGB ‘dangle’, Reid develops a bond and unique friendship with the Russian, who seemingly only wants to help 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, obtained using classic Cold War spy craft. It earns Tolkachev the nickname ‘The Billion Dollar Spy’ and alters the balance of power between East and West. But their success in evading the KGB comes at great personal cost to both men, and their marriages to wives Tina and Natasha, all struggling with the daily paranoia of being caught. Then one day a shocking betrayal puts them all in grave danger…
The classic Cold War true story was researched in great detail and written by Pulitzer prize-winning American journalist David E. Hoffman, drawing on previously classified CIA documents and interviews with first-hand participants. It has been adapted for the screen by Benjamin August (Class Rank, Remember).
For almost a decade Tolkachev proved to be a tremendous reporting asset to the CIA. He provided plans, specifications and test results on existing and planned Soviet aircraft and missiles, saving the U.S. government billions of dollars in defense expenditures, a coup that prompted some intelligence historians to call him “the greatest spy since Penkovsky”. His portrait still hangs at the CIA headquarters with his spy camera in hand.
“We are incredibly excited to take on this cold war thriller, a departure from Walden’s usual cannon, to bring this mysterious world to life. We are honoured to work with talents Mads Mikkelsen and Armie Hammer with Amma Asante at the helm, on a story that showcases how one person can change the world” said Frank Smith, president/CEO of Walden Media.
HanWay Films MD Gabrielle Stewart also noted; “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. At the same time we are going to inhabit the contrasting personal lives of our two spies: the personal challenges and the impact their world changing activities have on their marriages, their families and their own psyches. 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 is represented by Art Management and UTA, Hammerby WME, Sloane, Offer, Weber and Dern, and Relevant. Asante is represented by CAA, United Agents, and Mosaic.