Joel Edgerton is in early talks to join Jennifer Lawrence in Red Sparrow, an adaptation of the Jason Matthews espionage novel at Fox. Francis Lawrence is directing. Justin Haythe rewrote a script by American Hustle scribe Eric Warren Singer. Chernin Entertainment is producing with Steve Zaillian and Garrett Basch is exec producer.

2012 Winter TCA Tour - Day 5The book is set in contemporary Russia, and state intelligence officer Dominika Egorova struggles to survive in the cast-iron bureaucracy of post-Soviet intelligence. Drafted against her will to become a “Sparrow,” a trained seductress in the service, Dominika is assigned to operate against Nathaniel Nash, a first-tour CIA officer who handles the agency’s most sensitive penetration of Russian intelligence. The two young intelligence officers collide in a charged atmosphere of trade craft, deception, and inevitably, a sexual attraction that threatens their careers and the security of America’s valuable mole in Moscow.

red sparrowDominika winds up seeking revenge against her soulless masters, and living a fatal double life after she is recruited by the CIA to ferret out a high-level traitor in Washington. She also hunts down a Russian illegal buried deep in the U.S. military and, against all odds, to return to Moscow as the new-generation penetration of Russia’s intelligence service. There is topicality to the tale, given the Edward Snowden affair.

CAA reps Edgerton with Shanahan Management. He has the Oscar-bait pic Loving coming up. Jeff Nichols directed it, Ruth Negga stars with him and Focus Features will release it November 4. The film premiered at Cannes.