“Red Sonja” has found its star.
Hannah John-Kamen, best known as the villain Ghost in “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” will wield the sword of the comic book fantasy hero in Millennium Films’ long-gestating feature adaptation. Joey Soloway (“Transparent”) is directing the film, from a script by Soloway and Tasha Huo (a writer on Netflix’s upcoming “Tomb Raider” TV series).
“Hannah is a very talented actress who we’ve been following for years and she is Red Sonja,” Soloway said in a statement. “Her range, sensibilities and strength are all qualities we have been looking for and we couldn’t be more excited to embark on this journey together.”
Created in the early 1970s by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith for Marvel’s “Conan the Barbarian” comics, Red Sonja quickly became popular enough for her own spinoff series. That is certainly due in part to the character’s formidable fighting skills and forthright personality, and also because she was typically clad in a chain-mail bikini that seemed less about providing protection for the character than titillation for the largely heterosexual male readership.
The Red Sonja and Conan comics eventually left Marvel and landed at Dynamite Entertainment, which is where Millennium is basing its adaptation.
This could mark a major career step for the British-born John-Kamen, who started her career on U.K. TV series like “Happy Valley,” “Cucumber,” and “The Tunnel.” Coincidentally, one of John-Kamen’s first breakout roles was as a character named Sonja in the “Black Mirror” episode “Playtest” with Wyatt Russell. She’s also appeared on “Game of Thrones,” “Killjoys” and “Brave New World,” and played supporting roles in the 2018 “Tomb Raider” with Alicia Vikander and in Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One.” She recently wrapped production as the lead in Sony’s reboot of the “Resident Evil” franchise from writer-director Johannes Roberts.
The Hollywood Reporter first reported John-Kamen’s casting.
“Red Sonja” was adapted to a feature film in 1985, starring Brigitte Nielsen (with Arnold Schwarzenegger in a supporting role) and directed by Richard Fleischer. Since then, however, “Red Sonja” has repeatedly bounced around Hollywood, but never quite made it to a greenlight.
In 2008, Rose McGowan was attached to star for producer Robert Rodriguez and director Douglas Aarniokoski. More recently, Millennium came under fire for first hiring embattled director Bryan Singer to direct the film, despite the fact he’d recently been fired from “Bohemian Rhapsody.” After the Atlantic published an exposé alleging Singer had sexually assaulted underage boys (allegations Singer has repeatedly denied), Millennium chief Avi Lerner eventually relented to public pressure and replaced Singer with Soloway.
As can be the case for properties that have passed through many hands, the producers on “Red Sonja” are legion. They include Mark Canton (“300”) and Courtney Solomon (“After”); Christa Campbell and Lati Grobman for Campbell Grobman Films; Andrea Sperling for Topple; and for Millennium Media, Yariv Lerner, Jeffrey Greenstein, Jonathan Yunger, Les Weldon, Joe Gatta and Tanner Mobley. Millennium’s Lerner, Boaz Davidson and Trevor Short are executive producing, along with Luke Lieberman for Red Sonja LLC, Nick Barrucci for Dynamite Entertainment and Dorothy Canton.
John-Kamen is represented by Paradigm, Scott Marshall Partners and Luber Roklin.