Damian Lewis' next project confirmed after Billions departure

Production of A Spy Among Friends began this week.

Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce are to star in the BritBox Cold War drama A Spy Among Friends.

Based on the 2014 New York Times best-selling book by author Ben Macintyre, the limited series began production in London this week and also will shoot in Romania.

The role is Lewis’ first since he announced his departure from Showtime TV series Billions after five series.

Graham Norton Show – London
Co-star Guy Pearce (Isabel Infantes/PA)

The programme will follow the real-life defection of a British intelligence officer and KGB double agent, played by Pearce, and his relationship with an MI6 friend and colleague (Lewis).

It will reunite Lewis with writer Alexander Cary, who previously collaborated on hit espionage thriller Homeland.

Lewis, 50, said: “I’m excited to be producing and starring in A Spy Among Friends.

“These fabulous scripts by Alex Cary take an up-close look at friendship – a friendship that was blinded by love, class, and membership to the right clubs, and ended in betrayal and the deaths of thousands.

“It’s been a fantastic creative process developing ‘Spy’ and now I can’t wait to start filming with Guy and all the other brilliant actors who’ve happily agreed to join us.”

In Billions Lewis played hedge fund wizard Bobby “Axe” Axelrod, but fans watching the most recent episode on Sunday saw the character leaving New York to escape legal woes.

His departure from the series comes after his wife Helen McCrory, the acclaimed actress, died in April aged 52 following a battle with cancer.

Helen McCrory death
Helen McCrory died earlier this year (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Cary said: “How could I resist the opportunity to dramatise the true story of Nicholas Elliott (Damian Lewis) and Kim Philby (Guy Pearce) — two spies and lifelong friends, one of whom was betraying the other all along?.

“A friendship that resulted in the gutting of British and American intelligence at the height of the Cold War and shaped the field of play for the dangerous game against Russia that we’re still trying to win today.

“Macintyre’s books about spies from recent history are relevant and exciting because they examine the larger universal themes of human behavior that drive individuals among us, and like us, to excel in the murky world of espionage and, for better or worse, leave a lasting impact on the world.”

Pearce said: “It’s an honour to be a part of this thrilling project.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the intriguing MI6 history and getting to go on this journey with Damian makes it all the more brilliant.

“I’m also very happy to be working again with the wonderful and talented Nick Murphy.”

The cast also includes Line of Duty star Anna Maxwell Martin, Billions actor Stephen Kunken and Adrian Edmondson from The Pact.

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