'Kill the Messenger' Director to Helm Vince Flynn Adaptation 'American Assassin' (Exclusive)

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Michal Cuesta

Michael Cuesta will helm the CBS Films project from a script by Stephen Schiff.

Kill the Messenger helmer Michael Cuesta has signed on to direct American Assassin based on a script by Stephen Schiff, who's adapting the Vince Flynn novel.

The CBS Films project will center on counterterrorism agent Mitch Rapp, who is recruited by the CIA after his girlfriend is killed in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. The character was first introduced in Flynn's 1999 book Transfer of Power, but it was the 2010 book American Assassin that explored how Rapp ended up as a CIA operative.

Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Nick Wechsler are producing the film. CBS Films has been aiming to make a movie centered on Rapp for several years and has decided to focus first on how Rapp became a CIA agent.

Cuesta and Schiff seem like a promising team for the project, as both have worked on spy thriller TV series in recent years. Cuesta directed several episodes of Showtime's CIA drama Homeland, while Schiff is a writer and co-executive producer on FX's The Americans, which centers on two Soviet spies (Keri Russell and Matthe Rhys) living and raising a family in the U.S.

More than 20 million copies of Flynn's book have been sold worldwide. All of the books in Flynn's Mitch Rapp series have been New York Times best-sellers, with four reaching the top of the list. Among fans of the series are said to be President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush.

Flynn died in June 2013, but the book series continues on, with the latest novel, The Survivor, hitting shelves on Oct. 6, 2015. Author Kyle Mills wrote the novel, which is the 14th book in the Mitch Rapp series.

Cuesta helmed the 2014 crime thriller Kill the Messenger, which starred Jeremy Renner and focused on the CIA's involvement in Contra cocaine trafficking. He previously directed indie films including L.I.E., Tell-Tale and Roadie and episodes of Homeland, Dexter and Six Feet Under. He's repped by WME.

Schiff also executive produced and wrote on doc TV series Ultimate Rush and wrote 1997’s Lolita, along with working on the scripts for 1999’s True Crime and 2010’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. He’s repped by ICM Partners and Industry Entertainment