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The story of Vera Atkins is headed to the screen.
The spy recruiter is at the heart of a new female-driven World War II spy thriller, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively. Sarah Megan Thomas — who created, produced and starred in the story of last year’s Wall Street thriller Equity — wrote the project’s script and will produce the real-life drama with Lydia Dean Pilcher, who will direct. Casting is currently underway, and principal photography is set to begin in the spring.
Based on true events, the as-yet untitled pic tells the story of Atkins, known for recruiting, training and supervising the British secret agents who parachuted into France to sabotage the Nazis during World War II. She was widely believed to have inspired the James Bond character of Miss Moneypenny.
The film centers on Atkins as a crafty spy recruiter with a secret of her own, as she selects two of the first women of the Special Operations Executive, also known as Winston Churchill’s “secret army” — a pacifist of Indian descent and a daring American who is challenged, but undaunted, by a disability. These civilian women form an unlikely sisterhood while entangled in dangerous missions to turn the tide of the war.
“Sarah Megan Thomas has written a powerful screenplay,” Pilcher said Monday in a statement. “In a time of surging nationalism, this character driven, untold story, explores how different national and cultural forces working together can stimulate a deeper understanding of society as a whole.”
Added Thomas: “One of Lydia’s many gifts is her ability to tell entertaining stories that are relevant for the global marketplace. She is the perfect director for this spy drama featuring an international cast of women uniting to resist.”
The movie will be Pilcher’s second directorial feature, after co-helming the recently completed Radium Girls. In addition to critically acclaimed narratives like The Darjeeling Limited and The Talented Mr. Ripley, the Oscar-nominated documentary Cutie and the Boxer and international stories like The Lunchbox, Pilcher has also produced many strong female-led movies, including The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and Queen of Katwe.
Thomas created, produced and starred in the critically acclaimed 2016 release Equity alongside Anna Gunn, Alysia Reiner and James Purefoy. It currently is being adapted into a television series, with Thomas serving as executive producer. She aims to create and produce prestige independent fare featuring complex roles for women. Thomas is repped by Leigh Brillstein Management, Bresler Kelly and CAA.
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