EXCLUSIVE: Divergent‘s Theo James is in early talks to join the cast of Per Fly’s Backstabbing For Beginners. The project is a political thriller inspired by international relations veteran Michael Soussan’s memoir Backstabbing For Beginners: My Crash Course In International Diplomacy. If a deal gets done, James will star opposite the previously announced Ben Kingsley. Josh Hutcherson had originally been set to play that role. Parts & Labor, Creative Alliance, and Scythia Films are producing with Fortitude International handling international sales.

Set up as an official Danish/Canadian co-production, and co-written by Daniel Pyne (The Manchurian Candidate) and Fly, the film starts shooting soon. UTA is repping domestic rights. eOne has already nabbed all rights in Canada.

James would play Michael, a young idealist who lands his dream job as a program coordinator for the UN’s Oil for Food program. He is thrown into an already fraught post-war Iraq where government agents and power-hungry countries are circling the country’s oil reserves like sharks. He seeks answers from the one person he thinks he can trust, Pasha (Kingsley), his boss, a seasoned diplomat. The more Michael learns, however, the more he suspects a conspiracy at the highest level. The only way out will be to expose it all — risking his own life, his mentor’s career, and the life of the Kurdish woman he loves.

Fly last directed hit Swedish pic Monica Z and recently helmed the pilot for DR’s anticipated drama Follow The Money.

James has a number of projects in the pipelines: the Jim Sheridan directed The Secret Scripture opposite Rooney Mara and War On Everyone from John Michael McDonagh.  He is also filming the next installment of the Divergent series Allegiant opposite Shailene Woodley as well as Underworld 5 opposite everyone’s favorite vampire Kate Beckinsale.

James is repped by WME and Markham, Froggatt and Irwin.