EXCLUSIVE: Paul Rudd is set to star in The Catcher Was a Spy, a WWII thriller that Ben Lewin (The Sessions) will direct, with PalmStar Media producing and financing. The script is by Saving Private Ryan scribe Robert Rodat, who adapted the Nicholas Dawidoff bestselling book. PalmStar Media’s Kevin Frakes and Mark Fasano will produce along with Animus Films’ Jim Young and Tatiana Kelly of Serena Films, and Michael Bederman. PalmStar’s Buddy Patrick will Executive Produce.

the catcher was a spyI’m surprised it took this long for a feature, because the protagonist’s story is so unbelievable. Rudd will play Moe Berg, an Ivy League grad and attorney who spoke nine languages, but that wasn’t the only reason he stood out among his baseball teammates when he spent 15 years as a journeyman player for such teams as the New York Robins and Chicago White Sox. Their biggest worry might have been hitting a curveball; Berg doubled as a top secret spy for the OSS (a forerunner for the CIA), who helped the U.S. win the race against Germany to build the atomic bomb. Perhaps Berg was helped in his efforts to stay under the radar by the fact his skills were not going to make anyone forget about Babe Ruth. When Berg played for the Senators, teammate Dave Harris once famously said, “Moe Berg can speak twelve languages, but can’t hit any of them!” His story was previously developed by Warner Bros as a vehicle for George Clooney and before that, both HBO and Miramax tried but struck out.

moe bergIt’s a departure for the charismatic Rudd, who is about to reprise his Ant-Man character in a big way in Captain America: Civil War. Lewin recently wrapped Please Stand By, with Dakota Fanning, Toni Collette, and Alice Eve starring.

PalmStar is in post-production on the Kevin James-starrer True Memoirs of an International Assassin for Netflix, and the David Frankel-directed drama Collateral Beauty, which stars Will Smith. Animus recently produced The Man Who Knew Infinity with Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons, which gets released tomorrow.

Rudd is represented by UTA, Lighthouse Management and Jackoway Tyerman; Lewin is CAA and Loeb & Loeb; and Rodat is repped by Gersh.