EXCLUSIVE: The Killing and Suicide Squad alum Joel Kinnaman is set to star in AR Content’s adaptation of John Nixon’s Debriefing the President. Kinnaman will star as former CIA analyst Nixon who wrote the non-fiction book about his experience of being the first American to identify and interrogate Saddam Hussein following his 2003 capture.
The project, which is produced by Alexander Rodnyansky, had previously attached Ziad Doueiri to direct as a feature film but due to scheduling reasons he’s dropped out and the project will go forward as a limited series.
Nixon was a senior leadership analyst with the CIA from 1998-2011 who regularly wrote for and briefed those at the most senior levels of the U.S. government and later taught leadership analysis to the new generation of analysts coming at the Sherman Kent School, the agency’s in-house analytic training center.
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After confirming the prisoner was indeed Hussein, who had a known tribal tattoo on the back of his right hand and a scar from a 1959 bullet wound, Nixon began interrogating Hussein and was surprised by his findings. Instead of a ruthless despot bent on stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, Hussein had turned his foreign policy decision-making to his lieutenants and seemed more focused on writing a novel.
Hussein had also failed to understand why he had become the focus of U.S. anger after 9/11 and Nixon came away in disbelief that America’s intelligence services and the George W. Bush administration had been so wrong in its reasons for plunging the country into the shock-and-awe origins of an Iraqi occupation.
“When I received this beautiful adaptation of John Nixon’s memoir, I was immediately thrilled to participate,” said Kinnamen. “It’s a very intelligent character drama where the psychological cat and mouse game between John Nixon and Saddam Hussein will also shed new light on the chaos behind the second Iraq war. I couldn’t be more excited to be making this cinematic piece with Alexander Rodnyansky and his talented team of producers.”
Rodnyansky added: “I am happy and excited for Joel to join Debriefing the President. I believe we have found the best actor to play a complex and nuanced character that is John Nixon. For years, I have been a great admirer of Joel’s work both in film and television and his commitment and involvement in the development of our project made him integral to this story.”
Kinnaman is currently starring in Apple TV+’s sci-fi series For All Mankind and he stars alongside Nicolas Cage in Captone Global and Hammerstone Studios’ Sympathy for the Devil.
The in-demand actor also recently finished filming John Woo’s upcoming Silent Night, the first U.S. action film in decades to be directed by the Chinese filmmaker. Kinnaman stars as Godlock, a father on a mission to avenge his young son who was tragically caught in the crossfire of gang violence on Christmas Eve.
Kinnaman is also known for his role as Colonel Rick Flag in Suicide Squad and The Suicide Squad. Further credits include The Informer and RoboCop. He is repped by WME and Magnolia.
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