New Line renders cast

Gyllenhaal, Witherspoon to star in 'Rendition'

Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon will topline New Line’s Middle East political thriller “Rendition.”

Gavin Hood (“Tsotsi”) will direct and Steve Golin will produce via his Anonymous Content banner. Bill Todman’s Level One is co-financing with New Line. Todman will exec produce.

Aim is for a mid-November production start; project’s been fast-tracked since the mini-major closed the deal for tyro scribe Kelley Sane’s spec in May.

Multilayered story centers on a CIA analyst, based in the Middle Eastwhose world spins out of control as he questions his assignment after overseeing the secret-police interrogation of a suspected terrorist.

Several similar projects set in the Middle East have been moving forward, including two centered on slain journalist Daniel Pearl — Paramount Vantage’s “A Mighty Heart,” with Angelina Jolie starring and Michael Winterbottom directing an adaptation of Mariane Pearl’s memoir; and a Beacon thriller, based on the Bernard-Henri Levy book “Who Killed Daniel Pearl?” to be directed by Tod Williams and star Josh Lucas.

Gyllenhaal will be seen next in Paramount and Warner’s “Zodiac.”

Witherspoon appears in helmer Mark Palansky’s American-British-German co-production “Penelope,” which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. She’s also a producer on the pic.