×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

James Norton, Vanessa Kirby Join Agnieszka Holland’s Stalin-Era Movie ‘Gareth Jones’ (EXCLUSIVE)

WestEnd kicks off international sales at EFM

James Norton, star of “War and Peace” and “McMafia,” and Vanessa Kirby, who portrayed Princess Margaret in the first two seasons of “The Crown,” will play intrepid journalists in Agnieszka Holland’s politically charged new film “Gareth Jones.” WestEnd Films is handling international sales.

Norton is being talked about as a potential next James Bond off the back of his star turns in the BBC’s “McMafia” and “War and Peace.” In “Gareth Jones,” which is set in the early 1930s, he plays an ambitious Welsh journalist who travels to Moscow to attempt to interview dictator Joseph Stalin. The film is based on real events.

In Russia, Jones meets New York Times reporter Ada Brooks, played by Kirby, who is soon to be seen in “Mission: Impossible 6 — Fallout.” Brooks clues Jones in to Russian government oppression and, after a clandestine trip to Ukraine, he writes about it, but then has to fight for the truth in the face of propaganda, denials and cover-ups. As he tries to tell the story, he meets a young George Orwell and shares his findings, in turn influencing the author’s classic novel “Animal Farm.”

“The script joins, in a very artistic and original way, a few issues from the 20th century which seem particularly valid today,” Holland said. “George Orwell’s famous novel, ‘Animal Farm,’ links everything together: It reveals the mechanisms of totalitarian falsehood, and the terror that can be fought only by resistance to deception and violence.”

For Norton, it is another project with Russian connections after he played a British-educated banker from a Russian crime family in “McMafia.” “Gareth Jones” will shoot in Poland, Ukraine and Britain, with principal photography to begin Feb. 26. WestEnd will begin worldwide sales at the European Film Market, and is co-repping the film in the U.S. with Endeavor Content.

Holland was Oscar-nominated for “Europa, Europa,” which dealt with Nazi Germany. She said that “Gareth Jones” has themes that remain relevant: “Nobody wanted to shed light on Stalin’s atrocities, which Gareth exposed. Today, we don’t lack corruptible conformists and egoists; we lack Orwells and Joneses. That is why we should bring them back to life.”

The film is produced by Andrea Serdaru-Barbul, who also wrote the script, alongside Polish filmmaker Klaudia Smieja, Stanislaw Dziedzic of Film Produkcja, Angus Lamont of Crab Apple Films, and Ukrainian producer Egor Olesov of Kinorob. It was supported by the Polish Film Institute and the Ukrainian State Film Agency.

More Film

  • Nuri Bilge Ceylan in conversation at

    Shanghai: How Nuri Bilge Ceylan Sees the World so Differently

    At a masterclass on Thursday, Turkish film director Nuri Bilge Ceylan gave the initial impression of being an austere and unwilling participant. Wearing heavy glasses, keeping his coat on, and responding to questions rather than offering a class, his manner suggested that he was difficult. In China as the head of the Shanghai International Film [...]

  • SpiderMan Far From Home

    Hollywood Takes on Italy's Vacation-Heavy Summer Season With Blockbusters

    With upcoming movies such as “Toy Story 4,” “Men in Black: International” and “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” Hollywood studios are finally taking the plunge this year and slotting their blockbusters in Italian cinemas during the summer, a time when residents traditionally hit the beach en masse. For decades, the studios withheld their [...]

  • Easy Money

    Netflix Orders 'Snabba Cash' Series Based on Hit Movie Franchise from SF Studios

    Netflix has ordered a six-part original series based on the hit Swedish crime franchise “Snabba Cash” from SF Studios. Based on Jens Lapidus’s bestselling novels, the series is set in Stockholm’s gritty criminal underground ten years after the events depicted in the “Snabba Cash” (“Easy Money,” pictured) movie trilogy. The society has become even more [...]

  • The Kings Man

    Film News Roundup: Disney Sets 'The King's Man' Spy Comedy for February

    In today’s film news roundup, “The King’s Man” and “A Kid From Coney Island” get release dates, and “Barry” star Anthony Carrigan joins “Bill & Ted Face the Music.” RELEASE DATE Disney has set its Fox spy comedy prequel “The King’s Man” for release on Feb. 14, 2020. Disney made the announcement Wednesday at its [...]

  • Shyrakshy: Guardian of the Light

    Shanghai Film Review: 'Shyrakshy: Guardian of the Light'

    The bombastic English title might sound like it describes some comic book sci-fi epic, but in “Shyrakshy: Guardian of the Light” our hero does not wear a cape but a weathered cap, and the light he guards is not an interstellar death ray but the flickering beam of a battered old movie projector. Prominent Kazakh [...]

  • Wanda Film's Zeng Maojun

    Shanghai: China's Once-Mighty Wanda Casts Itself in Role of Survivor

    The soundtrack for the introductory showreel at Wednesday evening’s Shanghai press event announcing Wanda Pictures’ annual line-up was aspirational and strangely defiant.  It began with Nina Simone crooning, “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me, and I’m feeling good,” and then continued with “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child. “You [...]

  • 'The Souvenir' Costume Designer Fashioned 1980s'

    'The Souvenir' Costume Designer Put a Decadent Twist on Opulent ’80s Style

    Set against the backdrop of London’s early-1980s cultural renaissance, British auteur Joanna Hogg’s exquisitely sculpted and critically acclaimed “The Souvenir,” which A24 has been widening in platform release for the past month, follows film student Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) and her gradually destructive romance with the magnetic Anthony (Tom Burke). “We didn’t want a film [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content