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Peter Sarsgaard, Liev Schreiber Join Bobby Fischer Pic 'Pawn Sacrifice' (Exclusive)

Eric Charbonneau/Le Studio
Peter Sarsgaard

Tobey Maguire, who has been developing the project for years, will play the chess genius in the Ed Zwick-helmed film.

Peter Sarsgaard and Liev Schreiber are in negotiations to star opposite Tobey Maguire in the long-gestating Bobby Fischer drama Pawn Sacrifice.

For years, Maguire has been developing the Cold War-era project, which has attracted a number of potential directors including David Fincher.

Ed Zwick is onboard to direct; filming is set to begin in Montreal next month. Stephen Knight (Eastern Promises, Dirty Pretty Things) wrote the screenplay.

Fischer, who will be played by Maguire, became a pop culture icon as the youngest grand master in the history of chess and also became known for his unpredictable outbursts. In 1972, after a record-breaking winning streak, he became the first American to reach the finals, setting the stage for a high-stakes showdown against the seemingly invincible Soviet master Boris Spassky (Schreiber). Sarsgaard will play a priest who became a close confidant of Fischer's during the period.

STORY: Ed Zwick to Direct Tobey Maguire in Bobby Fischer Biopic

MICA Entertainment, the financier behind the Toronto Film Festival horror pic Oculus and the William Monahan-helmed drama Mojave, is backing Pawn Sacrifice. Maguire is producing via his Material Pictures alongside Gail Katz (The Perfect Storm) and Zwick.

Sarsgaard is coming off a lauded supporting role in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine and a season-three stint on AMC's The Killing. Among his upcoming films, he will be seen opposite Dakota Fanning and Jesse Eisenberg in Kelly Reichardt's Night Moves, which played this month at the Toronto Film Festival.

Schreiber, who stars in Showtime's Ray Donovan, plays a supporting role in John Turturro's Fading Gigolo, which also screened at Toronto.

Sarsgaard is repped by CAA, Authentic Management and attorney Jodi Peikoff.

Schreiber is handled by CAA and Untitled Entertainment.

E-mail: Tatiana.Siegel@THR.com
Twitter: @TatianaSiegel27