Mike Newell Talks Reykjavik

'It's a triumph of the human spirit'

Mike Newell is one of cinema's most reliable and talented dramatists, and, with a back catalogue featuring Four Weddings And A Funeral, Donnie Brasco and now Great Expectations, he has a gift for versatility, too. His next project, Reykjavik, shifts forward 150 years or so to 1986 and the pivotal peace talks between Ronald Reagan (Michael Douglas) and Mikhail Gorbachev (Christoph Waltz).

"It's a story about human contact being established in a desert where it shouldn't exist", Newells told Empire of his historical drama, "and against all the odds it does. It's a triumph of the human spirit."

The director describes it as an origin story for the end of the Cold War, which pits Reagan and Gorbachev in an odd-couple East-meets-West relationship upon which, as Hollywood tagline man might put it, 'the fate of the entire world hangs". Red Heat in an overcoat? Could be.

Unsurprisingly, the city of Reykjavik is on the shooting schedule for next year, as well Studio Babelsberg in Potsdam, earmarked for interiors work. Newell expects to start working with Waltz and Douglas - both currently shooting elsewhere - in late December or early in the new year. "We have to get the hair right", says the director of the make-up task ahead, "because Reagan was so vain about his hair - and obviously the birthmark and the baldness for Christoph Waltz." Better keep Frank Drebin away from the set.