Berlin: Jonathan Rhys Meyers to Star in Middle East Spy Thriller

Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

'Damascus Cover' starts production this week in Morocco.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers (The Tudors, Mission: Impossible III) is set to take the lead in spy thriller Damascus Cover, producers said Monday. Production starts this week in Morocco.

Rhys Meyers was announced alongside fellow castmembers Olivia Thirlby (Juno, No Strings Attached), John Hurt (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Alien), Igal Naor (Green Zone, Munich) and Navid Negahban (Homeland). The film is being produced by U.K.-based Big Book Media, while Carnaby International will launch global sales in Berlin.

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Directed by Daniel Berk, whose previous outing as director was 1998's undead horror sequel Sometimes They Come Back… for More, and produced by Hannah Leader (Lucky Number Slevin, Gosford Park), Damascus Cover is based on a 1977 novel by Howard Kaplan.

Set in 1989 as the Berlin Wall falls in Germany, the plot — based on true events — centers on a veteran spy sent undercover in Syria to smuggle a chemical weapons scientist and his family out of the country. "I'm enormously excited about this role. This was a hugely significant time in the conflict in the Middle East, post-Cold War and with the collapse of the Berlin Wall, when an amount of spies were redeployed to the Middle East, where the theater of covert operations would now take precedence," said Rhys Meyers, who is also starring in Roland Emmerich's fellow European Film Market title Stonewall.

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Alongside Big Book Media, the film is being supporting by local Moroccan production company H Films, which recently shot Werner Herzog's Queen of the the Desert, getting its world premiere in Berlin.

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