By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist November 12, 2010 at 2:23AM
Michael Gambon, Bill Nighy, Judy Davis & Ralph Fiennes Also In Cast
It seems like a little while since we've had a really smart, compelling spy thriller -- there have been some valiant, but flawed efforts, like Billy Ray's "Breach" and the Don Cheadle vehicle "Traitor," but for the most part, the genre swings between ludicrous, rubber-mask filled efforts like "Salt," and the frankly dull "The Good Shepherd." But next year has the absurdly promising "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" in the pipeline, and it looks like another British effort is joining it.
Baz Bamigboye reports that playwright David Hare, best known in the film world for his Oscar-nominated screenplays for "The Reader" and "The Hours," will write and direct the spy thriller "Page 8," which begins in January, and has assembled a fairly impressive cast. The insanely busy Rachel Weisz will take the lead role, a "beguiling woman of mystery," with the equally busy Bill Nighy as an MI5 operative threatened by Weisz's character, Michael Gambon as the head of the security services, and Judy Davis and Ralph Fiennes (who was once set for "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy") in unknown roles.
Filming will kick off in January, with Christine Langan ("The Queen") and "Harry Potter" masterminds David Heyman and David Barron producing. Hare says he wrote the film "to fill the gap in my own pleasurable cinema-going," so it sounds like it'll be an entertainment, rather than one of Hare's more political stage plays. The title is said to refer to a secret document that's key to the plot.
Weisz has a pretty tight schedule -- she's been filming untitled projects for Terrence Malick and Lynn Shelton in recent weeks, and has to fit Fernando Meirelles' "360" and Terrence Rattigan's currently-filming "The Deep Blue Sea" before the January start date. Were she to sign on to Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises," as rumored yesterday, that would go ahead in April, before she takes on another spy role for Hare, in a London revival of his play "Plenty."
We're bigger fans of Hare's theater work, which is sometimes more exceptional ("Racing Demon," "Skylight") than his screenwriting, but with a cast like the one he's assembled, there's good reason to look forward to this one. There's no word of a release date yet, but with a January shoot, it could well be ready for the fall festival season.