Michael Keaton to Star in Vince Flynn Adaptation 'American Assassin'

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Michael Keaton

'Kill the Messenger' helmer Michael Cuesta is directing for CBS Films and Lionsgate.

Michael Keaton has signed on to star in American Assassin, screenwriter Stephen Schiff's adaptation of the Vince Flynn novel.

The CBS Films and Lionsgate project will center on counter-terrorism 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.

Keaton will take on the role of Cold War veteran Stan Hurley, a feared training officer in the CIA. As American Assassin begins, deputy director Irene Kennedy asks Hurley to train Rapp.

As Rapp's training progresses, the pair go on a joint mission with a lethal Turkish agent to stop a mysterious operative from starting World War III in the Middle East. Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Nick Wechsler are producing the film, and Kill the Messenger helmer Michael Cuesta is directing.

"Stan Hurley is one of the pillars of the Vince Flynn universe and a favorite character for millions of readers, so casting him was a daunting challenge," Cuesta said Wednesday in a statement. "To have an actor as intelligent and gifted as Michael Keaton bring this beloved character to life is a thrill for everyone involved in American Assassin and a cause for celebration amongst Hurley fans the world over."

The pic will be co-financed by CBS Films, which is overseeing production and marketing, and Lionsgate, which handles distribution. No word on additional casting for American Assassin, which will start shooting in summer.

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.

Keaton is repped by ICM Partners, Anonymous Content and Wendy Kirk at Ziffren Brittenham, LLP.