William Oldroyd, who won acclaim for his feature debut Lady Macbeth, has come on to direct the crime thriller Body Cross for Focus Features, which had been developing the project as a potential sequel to Eastern Promises, Collider has confirmed.
Steven Knight wrote the script years ago, and Focus execs have been high on it ever since, but since script stalled out as a sequel to Eastern Promises, the studio decided to use it to tell an original story. Once slated to return, Viggo Mortensen and Vincent Cassel are no longer expected to be involved, and Body Cross will serve as a standalone crime movie. The project has already been updated to reflect this shift on IMDb Pro, which no longer lists Eastern Promises 2 among Knight’s development projects.
According to Screen Daily, which broke the news, Body Cross is described a mafia tale about two immigrant brothers living in London. Collider’s sources indicate the script follows a Russian agent who rises to become a London mafia boss’ trusted lieutenant and is soon instructed to assassinate one of his fellow countrymen. As far as I know, Mortensen’s character of Nikolai has been written out of the script, or at least renamed ‘Gregory.’
“I can say the script for the second one is much better that the first. Honestly, it’s one of the things I’ve written that I most like and it’s driving me mad … so I’ve got to get it made,” Knight told IndieWire back in 2014. The screenwriter’s confidence is certainly encouraging, especially for such a long-delayed project.
Paul Webster is producing Body Cross for Shoebox Films and production could begin as soon as February. Webster is one of England’s top producers, having worked with Joe Wright on Pride and Prejudice, Atonement and Anna Karenina, as well as Knight’s acclaimed 2013 drama Locke starring Tom Hardy, and the upcoming Marie Curie movie Radioactive starring Rosamund Pike.
Knight’s recent screenwriting credits include Pawn Sacrifice, Burnt, Allied, November Criminals, Woman Walks Ahead and the upcoming Lisbeth Salander thriller The Girl In the Spider’s Web. He also created Peaky Blinders and the FX series Taboo starring Hardy. Up next for Knight is Serenity, the indie thriller starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Jason Clarke.
Oldroyd directed several short films before graduating to features with Lady Macbeth, which made a star out of Florence Pugh, who booked subsequent roles in Outlaw King, Dwayne Johnson‘s Fighting With My Family, Ari Aster‘s Midsommer, Greta Gerwig‘s Little Women and the upcoming AMC limited series The Little Drummer Girl, which really illustrates the impact that Oldroyd’s film has had on her career. He’s represented by WME and United Agents.