Gerard Butler Set to Begin Filming Snowden-Inspired Spy Movie in Saudi Arabia

Gerard Butler in Lionsgate’s "ANGEL HAS FALLEN"

Gerard Butler has reteamed with "Angel Has Fallen" and "Greenland" director Ric Roman Waugh for "Kandahar," a CIA thriller scheduled to begin filming this month in Saudi Arabia.

Butler has made a big name playing Secret Service agent Mike Banning in the "Has Fallen" series, and the 2019 movie "Angel Has Fallen" was such a critical and box-office success that he's scheduled to reteam with Waugh for "Night Has Fallen." Butler and the studio have plans for at least two more films in the series after the next one.

In the meantime, Butler and Waugh have teamed up for "Kandahar." Waugh is a stuntman-turned-director who got his break when he made the 2015 documentary "That Which I Love Destroys Me." The movie follows veterans Jayson Floyd and Tyler Grey as they learn to deal with their post-traumatic stress while pursuing careers in Hollywood. Grey has since become a producer, actor and director on the CBS/Paramount+ series "SEAL Team."

Related: How Director Ric Roman Waugh Brought Veteran Issues to 'Angel Has Fallen'

In "Kandahar," Butler will star as undercover CIA operative Tom Harris. When an intelligence leak exposes his mission and covert identity, Harris and his translator must fight their way out of the desert to an extraction point in Kandahar.

Waugh co-wrote the screenplay with Army veteran Mitchell LaFortune, a former military intelligence officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency who was serving in Afghanistan at the time of the Edward Snowden leaks. The actual fallout from those leaks in LaFortune's real life is a partial inspiration for the movie's story.

"Kandahar" is being made with financing from MBC Studios, the film production arm of a Saudi-owned satellite television company. Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has ambitious plans for a big Saudi presence in the entertainment field, plans that were put on hold in 2018 after media reports tied the Saudi government to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Things have since cooled down in Hollywood, and director Rupert Wyatt ("Rise of the Planet of the Apes") recently began filming "Desert Warrior" with Anthony Mackie ("Captain America") in Saudi Arabia. "Kandahar" will be the second Hollywood project to film there this fall.

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