Logan Lerman and Olivia Cooke are in final negotiations to star in The Tracking of a Russian Spy for StudioCanal and The Picture Company.
Nima Nourizadeh, who helmed American Ultra, is directing the true-life thriller that is so timely it could be tomorrow's New York Times headline.
Based on Mitch Swenson's memoir, the plot centers on a secret romance between Swenson, a journalist, and Katya, a mysterious Russian woman he met in a New York nightclub. She disappeared suddenly after the arrest of 10 Russian-Americans who were charged with spying for the Kremlin. Swenson went to Moscow to uncover who his love really was, leading him down a rabbit hole of intrigue and shadow government operations deep within Russia.
Lerman is playing the journalist while Cooke plays the intriguing spy.
The move is a big break for the actors, considered stars of tomorrow due to being on the cusp of major breakthroughs. Lerman gained notices for starring in Perks of Being a Wallflower and was part of the all-star ensemble of David Ayer's tank war movie, Fury. Cooke appears on A&E's Bates Motel and came onto the scene with Sundance darling Me, Earl & the Dying Girl but gets her biggest stage yet starring in Steven Spielberg's sci-fi tentpole Ready Player One, which will be released March 2018.
Chris Salmanpour, a writer who was discovered through a partnership between The Black List, StudioCanal and The Picture Company to find new voices among EU writers, penned the adaptation of Russian Spy, which is using movies such as Marathon Man and Three Days of the Condor as touchstones.
The Picture Company's Andrew Rona and Alex Heineman, who worked with Nourizadeh on his feature debut, Project X, are producing the thriller, which is targeting a summer shoot.
Rona and Heineman have the Liam Neeson thriller The Commuter in post and war thriller The Last Battle heading for a late summer start. The busy producers are also behind the Escape from New York remake that is getting Robert Rodriguez as director.
Lerman is repped by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners. Cooke is repped by CAA, Grandview, U.K.'s Shepherd Management and Hansen Jacobson. CAA, which also reps Nourizadeh and Picture Company, packaged the project.
Ron Halpern and Shana Eddy are overseeing the project for StudioCanal.