By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com June 8, 2012 at 12:24PM
Update: Vulture has corrected their report and David Cronenberg will indeed direct the film, not Steven Knight.
Over the last five years or so, reports have kept cropping up of a relatively unlikely sequel: a follow-up to 2007's gangster thriller "Eastern Promises," which was directed by David Cronenberg, and starred Viggo Mortensen as a heavily tattooed low-level Russian mobster who helps a nurse (Naomi Watts) protect a baby targeted by the criminals, including his near-psychotic pal (Vincent Cassel). Given that the film had a slightly-too-neat twist whereby it was revealed that Mortensen's character was actually an undercover FSB agent, it was certainly set up for a follow-up, and recently, both Cronenberg and his star have both said that there's a script that they like, and that they were keen to make the film.
Well, the good news is, it seems to be moving forward: Vulture report that Vincent Cassel is now in negotations to reprise his role as Kirill, the mobster's son who has now inherited the business from his father, and runs it together with Nikolai (Mortensen). The bad news is that with Cronenberg seemingly gearing up to make "The Map To The Stars" with his "Cosmopolis" star Robert Pattinson, the director seems to have bowed out of helming the picture, with Steven Knight, the writer of the script for both the original and the sequel, taking his place.
Knight, whose other credits include "Dirty Pretty Things," recently wrapped his directorial debut, "Hummingbird," starring Jason Statham, in London, and clearly Focus Features executives have heard the same promising reports about it that we have, as they've given him the director's chair on the project. There's no word if Naomi Watts would return, but given how extraneous she was to the first film, we imagine it's a long shot. It's a shame that Cronenberg won't be back for the second film -- it could risk being a rather more traditional crime thriller without him -- but we certainly would rather see him tackle something like 'Map Of The Stars.' The only slight concern is what this means for Mortensen's involvement in that project; the director told us in Cannes that he was hoping his frequent collaborator would take a role.
All being well, "Eastern Promises 2: Tokyo Drift," or whatever they end up calling it, will shoot early next year, once Mortensen wraps on "Drive" writer Hossein Amini's adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's "The Two Faces Of January," which seems to be his next project, so we'll likely see the sequel at the end of 2013 or start of 2014.