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The actor will star alongside Guy Pearce in the BritBox/Spectrum Originals limited series A Spy Among Friends. The six-episode drama, which had been in the works for more than a year before deals for the project closed, started production this week in London and will also film in Romania.
Created by Alexander Cary, Spy is based on the New York Times best-selling book by Ben Macintyre. The series, produced by Sony Pictures TV and BritBox parent ITV Studios and Veritas Entertainment Group, revolves around the defection of a British intelligence officer and KGB double agent (Pearce, replacing Dominic West, who was originally in talks for the part) and his relationship with an MI6 friend and colleague (Lewis). The part will reunite Lewis with Cary, who previously collaborated on Showtime’s Homeland.
Exec producers include Cary, Patrick Spence, Nick Murphy, Chrissy Skinns, Bob Bookman, Alan Gasmer, Peter Jaysen and Lewis via his Ginger Biscuit Entertainment. Murphy will direct.
Spy will premiere next year on BritBox in the U.K. and Spectrum’s On Demand platform in the U.S. in fall 2022, pending production schedules.
“How could I resist the opportunity to dramatize the true story of Nicholas Elliott [Lewis] and Kim Philby [Pearce] — two spies and lifelong friends, one of whom was betraying the other all along?” said Cary. “A friendship that resulted in the gutting of British and American intelligence at the height of the Cold War and shaped the field of play for the dangerous game against Russia that we’re still trying to win today. Macintyre’s books about spies from recent history are relevant and exciting because they examine the larger universal themes of human behavior that drive individuals among us, and like us, to excel in the murky world of espionage and, for better or worse, leave a lasting impact on the world.”
Spy arrives mere days after Lewis stunned Billions die-hards with news that he would not be returning to star in the previously announced sixth season of the Showtime drama. His contract covered only five seasons, and the actor felt his character’s journey was complete. Instead, Lewis will remain close to home in London with his two teenage kids following the death last spring of his wife, actress Helen McCrory. Spy shoots in London, while Billions films in New York.
“I’m excited to be producing and starring in A Spy Among Friends. These fabulous scripts by Alex Cary take an up-close look at friendship — a friendship that was blinded by love, class and membership to the right clubs, and ended in betrayal and the deaths of thousands,” said Lewis. “It’s been a fantastic creative process developing Spy and now I can’t wait to start filming with Guy and all the other brilliant actors who’ve happily agreed to join us.”
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