It's difficult to report on April Fool's Day for obvious reasons, but this rumour is true. The National Post reports that MTV News announced yesterday David Cronenberg's plans to make a sequel to Eastern Promises, the award-winning film released to acclaim in 2007 at the Toronto International Film Festival. Cronenberg revealed that he is working on a follow-up film along with the actor Viggo Mortensen, the screenwriter Steven Knight, the producer Paul Webster and Focus Features. If and when the film is finalized, it would mark the third collaboration between the Canadian director and Mortensen, who starred in both Eastern Promises and Cronenberg's 2005 film A History of Violence.
Cronenberg told MTV, "We are moving forward with it. We all are excited about the idea of doing a sequel... We are going to have a meeting very soon between me, Steve Knight and Paul Webster to discuss what the script would be. I have some very strong ideas about what I would like to see, but I would like to hear what they have to say as well. And then after that, if all goes well, Steve goes away and writes a great script. If we all like it, we make it." Cronenberg admitted that although he has never before felt the inclination to revisit his work, "It’s the first time I’ve ever been in a situation where I actually want to do a sequel to something. I’ve never had the desire to do that before. But in this case, I thought we had unfinished business with those characters. I didn’t feel that we had finished with Nikolai and we had done a lot of research that was more than we could stuff into that one movie."
The conclusion of Eastern Promises certainly did impart a sense of unfinished business, seemingly leaving itself open to the possibility of a sequel. The film ended with the revelation—one which gave rise to as many questions as it answered—that Mortensen's character, a Russian gangster named Nikolai, is working undercover for a British intelligence service. While Nikolai will most likely be the focus of the forthcoming film, so far there are no conclusive reports as to the appearance of other central characters or the participation of actors, most notably the British midwife Anna played by the actress Naomi Watts and the Russian gangster Kirill played by the actor Vincent Cassel.
The Toronto Star also reports that Cronenberg is being honoured by the government of France with the Légion d'Honneur at a private ceremony in Toronto. Cronenberg is slated to begin shooting his first blockbuster in September and he wants the production to be based in the city. The $150 million thriller for MGM—based on the 1979 novel The Matarese Circle by Robert Ludlum—will star Tom Cruise and Denzel Washington as rival spies who join forces.