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The Austrian actor, 56, will star opposite Michael Douglas, who will play former US President Ronald Reagan.
Newell’s attachment to the project comes as his new film Great Expectations – an adaption of the iconic novel by Charles Dickens – will close this year’s London Film Festival.
The film recreates the diplomatic meeting between the two leaders in the Icelandic capital in 1986, which pre-empted the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty which led to the demise of The Cold War.
Production starts on the picture – written by Becoming Jane scribe Kevin Hood – in March 2013, with filming set to place in Iceland and Germany.
Newell said in a statement: “I feel very fortunate to have two such masters to portray the men who brought about the end of the third great war of the 20th Century. Reagan and Gorbachev were two of the most significant politicians and individuals of their times. I’m very excited to see how each of these great actors gets to grips with their role as the history-changing giants we remember them to have been.”
“This is a moment in history where two world leaders with fundamentally opposing beliefs held the future of the world in their hands”, added Stewart Mackinnon, President of Headline Pictures. “They controlled nuclear arsenals which had the capability to destroy the world many times over but despite this, put the needs of humanity before their ideology and agreed to end the nuclear arms race. Informed by deeply-held private beliefs Reagan and Gorbachev reached an understanding that we can still draw lessons from today.”
“The film will offer the viewer a unique look into two larger than life figures– Reagan and Gorbachev – who served as the catalysts for one of the most defining moments in our history, the end of the cold war”, said acclaimed director and President of ScottFree, Ridley Scott. “I am excited not only by the story and the incredible cast we have assembled but also by the larger issue this film tackles that impacts all of us – non-proliferation and the abolishment of nuclear weapons.”
Managing Director of HanWay Films Thorsten Schumacher said: “With the real threat of nuclear annihilation, the stakes could not have been higher for the meeting between Reagan and Gorbachev at Reykjavik. In an atmosphere of intrigue and paranoia, how these two enemies could come to finally trust each other makes for suspenseful and emotional tour de force. We’re thrilled to have the exceptional talents of Michael Douglas and Christoph Waltz face off against each other in these iconic roles.
Waltz will next be seen in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, and is also the lead actor in Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem.
He was last seen in Carnage alongside Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet, after coming to the attention of Western audiences with his role in Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds.