Paul Mescal to Lead Espionage Thriller ‘A Spy by Nature’ for Kevin Macdonald – The Hollywood Reporter
Paul Mescal is stepping into the spy world for the first time.
The Emmy and BAFTA-winning Normal People breakout, recently seen in festival favorite Aftersun and last year’s The Lost Daughter, is set to lead A Spy By Nature for Oscar winner Kevin Macdonald (The Mauritanian, The Last King of Scotland, State of Play). HanWay Films is launching the project at the American Film Market, with CAA co-repping U.S. rights.
Described as a smart, modern espionage thriller, A Spy By Nature explores a young spy’s growing talent for lying and subterfuge, and the consequences this has on his professional and private lives. The film is adapted by BAFTA winner and Academy Awardnominee John Hodge (Trainspotting, The Beach) from the first novel in Charles Cumming’s bestselling Alec Milius spy series, with the most recent draft by Joseph Charlton (Industry. The film is produced by Chris Clark (All the Money in the World, Calvary, Legend) and Quentin Curtis (All the Money in the World, Legend). Serving as executive producers, HanWay Films and Ingenious Media developed the project together with the producers.
A Spy By Nature sees Mescal play Alec Milius, a disillusioned twenty-something whose gift for deception catches the eye of MI6. Caught up in the thrusts of a geopolitical war on commodities involving the British and the Americans, at home he struggles to preserve his relationship with his girlfriend and build a future together. As his web of lies grows, Alec is forced to confront his own nature — whether he can be a good man as well as a good spy.
“I’ve wanted to make A Spy By Nature for many years — and when I met Paul Mescal, with his beguiling mixture of intelligence, skill and youth, I knew I’d found the perfect star,” said MacDonald. “This is a very modern spy story — sexy, dangerous, morally ambivalent — and only an actor of Paul’s talent could pull it off.”
Producers Clark and Curtis said: “We are thrilled to be bringing this exciting and timely thriller to the screen with Kevin Macdonald, whose extraordinary track record of captivating and thought-provoking cinema makes him the ideal director for it. The search for the perfect actor to play Alec Milius has been a long one. But as soon as we saw Paul Mescal’s remarkable breakthrough performances we knew we had found a performer with the intelligence, depth and charisma to interpret this compellingly multifaceted role.”
HanWay Films CEO Gabrielle Stewart added: “Paul Mescal feels like the actor of the moment, so to have him team up with Kevin Macdonald to bring to the screen the compelling origins story of popular young spy Alec Milius is extremely exciting. We love the fresh setting of millennial contemporary London and the modernity of the characters and their relationships. I feel confident we will all want to revisit this young spy in his next adventure with what could be the beginning of an exciting new franchise.”