A few days ago it was announced that some of our favourite actresses was teaming up to a large-scale espionage film that Simon Kinberg will direct. Jessica Chastain, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Fan Bingbing and Lupita Nyong’o will play international agents in 355, a grounded, edgy action thriller that aims to alter a male-dominated genre with a true female ensemble, in the style of spy franchises The Bourne Identity, Mission: Impossible and James Bond. The script is by Theresa Rebeck.
Chastain sat with Deadline when the project was announced last week.
“I had so much fun working on The Help that I always wanted to do another female ensemble film. I love the Bourne movies, the Mission: Impossible films, and wondered why, except for Charlie’s Angels, there hadn’t been a true female ensemble action-thriller spy film. That got my wheels going, along with the idea of casting actresses from all over the world to truly make it an international project. I realized the incredible creative freedom we would have with that. I brought the idea to Simon, told him about the actresses I was thinking of, and he was so sweet. He said, ‘I want to do it with you.’
Then I called all the women, told them what I was envisioning and that I wanted it to be a collaborative process, and how we would all create this together. The one thing that felt important is that we all show up at Cannes, because that would be the beginning of our journey together. Every single actress I called said yes, on the phone call. They committed to Cannes and to everything. So far it has been a very wonderfully easy process.”
She also got the idea of the film title by one of her past projects.
“When I was preparing for Zero Dark Thirty, I had incredible resources working in the CIA I got to learn from. We have a consultant in our film that has a lot of knowledge in espionage. This title came from one of the conversations I had with him. Agent 355 was the code name of a female spy during the American Revolution. She was one of the very first spies for the United States, and her identity is still unknown. For a lot of women who work in the CIA and other organizations like that, Code 355 is a universal slang term for female spy. It’s the invisible woman who was never named.”
Today, Jessica is in Cannes as announced, and the movie has scored its first major territorial deal, with FilmNation Entertainment and CAA Media Finance Group setting a whopping deal in France with SND.
Deadline – That deal was made before tomorrow’s affair at the Cannes Majestic where director Simon Kinberg will be on hand with Jessica Chastain, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Fan Bingbing and Lupita Nyong’o to discuss their ambition for the spy ensemble, before a crowd of international and domestic buyers. Deadline revealed the project last week and this week placed it atop the most anticipated list of star packages unveiled at the Cannes Market.
Excitement for this new project is now my middle name.