Aaron Eckhart is in talks to star in action thriller The Expatriate which Essential Entertainment is introducing to buyers here.

Eckhart, an awards season contender for his performance in Rabbit Hole opposite Nicole Kidman, would play a former CIA agent working in Belgium who goes on the run with his estranged daughter when he is pursued by a kill squad.

Philipp Stolzl is directing from an original screenplay by A E Amel and the producers are targeting a first quarter 2011 production start on location in Belgium and Montreal.

Informant Media’s Judy Cairo, Harry Winer of Smash Media and Michael A Simpson and Howard Meltzer both also of Informant Media are producing.

The Expatriate is a kinetic commercial thriller that will appeal to buyers worldwide,” Essential’s president of worldwide distribution John Fremes said.

“We have assembled a great team on The Expatriate, and anticipate healthy pre-sales at AFM and beyond.”

Essential is serving as executive producer on the project and its AFM slate includes Barney’s Version, Whole Lotta Sole and Red Dog