Armie Hammer and Mads Mikkelsen are set to star in Amma Asante’s The Billion Dollar Spy, which is 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, who has just arrived at the CIA’s Moscow station 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 a 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 spycraft. 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, and eventually, a shocking betrayal puts them all in grave danger.
Asante will direct The Billion Dollar Spy from a script by Benjamin August, who adapted the book of the same name by Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist David E. Hoffman, who drew on previously classified CIA documents and interviews with first-hand participants.
The project was developed by Walden Media, which is producing alongside Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman and Greg Lessans of Weed Road Pictures. Walden Media’s Frank Smith and Naia Cucukov will executive produce Billion Dollar Spy, which will start production next year in Eastern Europe. CAA Media Finance and Endeavor Content will oversee the U.S sale, while HanWay Films will commence international sales at the upcoming American Film Market.
“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 honored 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,” Smith 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,” added HanWay’s Gabrielle Stewart. “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 coming off of movies big (Doctor Strange, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) and small (Arctic), and he’ll soon be seen alongside Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley in Chaos Walking. I’ve also heard nothing but good things about Another Round, his latest collaboration with director Thomas Vinterberg.
British writer-director Asante is best known for directing Belle and A United Kingdom, as well as episodes for the Emmy-winning series Mrs. America and The Handmaid’s Tale. She’s represented by CAA, United Agents and Mosaic, while Hammer is repped by WME, and Mikkelsen is repped by UTA and Art Management.