History boys: Scott Free shines light on Reykjavik

Summit pic on fast track, Ridley says

Ridley Scott says his planned film about the 1986 Reykjavik summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev could be wrapped by the end of the year and released in early 2009.

The yet-unnamed project — still in the script stage — would only need a short shoot, Scott told The Hollywood Reporter. Representatives from his and brother Tony's Scott Free Prods. visited Iceland last summer to investigate the possibility of shooting the film in Reykjavik, and already have secured permission to film at the Hofdi House, where the summit actually took place.

"These are fascinating historical characters, larger-than-life figures, but I want to show who they were and why they did what they did," the British helmer said. "Their actions helped shape history, paving the way for the end of the Cold War."

Scott said it is only with the passing of time that the significance of the summit has been recognized. "But it was two decades ago. This generation might well say 'Summit, what summit?' They might ask, 'Who is Gorbachev?' "

Scott Free has brought together a group of entertainment and political veterans for the project. Among the executive producers are Reagan's arms negotiator at the summit, Ken Adelman, and Mark Sennet, co-creator of HBO political drama "K Street."

"In 'K Street,' we just let real people and events come to life. And we'd like to apply some of that approach to this project," Sennet said. "It is also interesting to go back in time, to give it a contemporary reflection. We can look at history and mesh it in to today."

Scott, who has not made a final decision on whether he will direct, said he wants to be as impartial as possible in the movie. "If you do a dramatic version of an event, you have to get as close as possible to the truth. You need to make intelligent judgment calls to get under the veneer of perception. It's like dramatized journalism," he said.

One of the challenges is casting. "In some way, you'd want to go for an unknown. But both characters are at a certain age, so inevitably you want to go for someone with experience," Scott said.

"The physical resemblance is secondary. It's less about visible appearance, more about the acting. But you have to acknowledge the physicality," he added. "Reagan was tall and elegant while Gorbachev was stocky, like a front-row rugby player. In some ways, Gorbachev is easier to cast. Reagan is more colorful."