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Benedict Cumberbatch is undertaking an adaptation of the classic British novel Rogue Male.
The star of Sherlock and Doctor Strange will star in and produce the film with Lloyd Levin, Branwen Prestwood Smith and Beatriz Levin of Black Sheep Pictures. Also producing will be Adam Ackland of SunnyMarch, Cumberbatch’s production company.
Michael Lesslie (Macbeth, Assassin’s Creed) has been hired to write the screenplay for the project, which is set up at Fox Searchlight.
The survivalist thriller told of a hunter who attempts to assassinate a dictator but is caught, tortured and left for dead. When he escapes back home to England, he must hide out in a harsh countryside with the enemy agents as well as the police in hot pursuit. Rogue Male was published in 1939 and the author, Geoffrey Household, said the dictator was intended to be a stand-in for Adolph Hitler.
The novel has fascinated directors and actors from the day it came out. Twentieth Century Fox adapted it in 1940 as Man Hunt, directed by Fritz Lang and starring Walter Pidgeon (and with Hitler as the dictator) and Peter O’Toole starred in a BBC production made for television in 1977.
“I am thrilled both as an actor and producer to be working on bringing this most treasured of English novels to the big screen,” said Cumberbatch, who read the novel several years ago.
Household specialized in thrillers and wrote 28 novels. Rogue Male was a best-seller and is regarded as his masterpiece.
Victoria Nelson brought the project to Levin’s attention years ago and will co-produce.
Fox Searchlight Pictures co-heads of production Matthew Greenfield and David Greenbaum, along with senior vp of production Anikah McLaren and director of production Katie Goodson-Thomas, will oversee the project.
Bill Hamilton of A.M. Heath repped the Household estate and the book rights. Lesslie is repped by WME and Rachel Holroyd of Casarotto Ramsay & Associates
Cumberbatch, who was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in 2014’s The Imitation Game, is already moving into the producing field and his SunnyMarch is developing the Gary Whitta script The War Magician for Studio Canal. He is repped by UTA and John Grant in the U.K. as well Sloane, Offer, which also repped the producers.
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