EXCLUSIVE: Radcliffe to star as Olympic champion in Gold. Simon Beaufoy’s script to be directed by James Watkins, Embankment to handle sales.

Daniel Radcliffe is to play four-time Olympic gold medallist Sebastian Coe in what will be one of the hottest projects to hit the American Film Market (AFM) next month.

Radcliffe will reunite with Woman in Black director James Watkins on Gold, which will tell the story of Coe’s rivalry with fellow athlete Steve Ovett in the years leading up to the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games.

The buzzed-about screenplay is by Oscar-winning writer Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and Will Davies (How to Train Your Dragon).

Planning is underway for a shoot in the UK and Russia in April next year.

The film will be produced by Joanna Anderson and Vicky Licorish (Small Island) and Kevin Loader (Hyde Park on Hudson, Le Week-end).

BBC Films and the British Film Institute have developed the project with Al Films. BBC Films’ head Christine Langan will executive produce. Financing is also provided by Ingenious Senior Film Fund, represented by Gavin Poolman. 

As a middle-distance runner, Coe won four Olympic medals in 1980 and 1984, and broke world records. He turned to politics in the early 1990s and became a Life Peer in 2000.

He most recently cemented his position as a national hero after securing the UK the Olympic Games in 2012 and was presented with the Lifetime Achievement award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in last December

Harry Potter star Radcliffe is currently in Sony Picture Classics’ Kill Your Darlings, set for release in the UK in December.

He will next be seen starring opposite Zoe Kazan in eOne romantic comedy The F Word, as well as starring opposite Juno Temple in the horror-thriller Horns, based on Joe Hill’s best-selling book. 

This summer saw Radcliffe star in the acclaimed West End production of Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan. He will next star with James McAvoy in Paul McGuigan’s Frankenstein, set for release in 2015.

Radcliffe is represented by Sue Latimer at ARG in the UK and UTA in the US.

Christine Langan said of the project: “Compelling, funny and moving, Gold is a gem of a story and BBC Films is proud to be participating in bringing it to an international audience.”

Tim Haslam and Hugo Grumbar’s Embankment Films are selling worldwide and will be launching the film at the AFM. Haslam said: “Gold is a movie about an insatiable need to win, fuelled by intense ambition, only possible through the support of loving family.”

The film is based on the acclaimed book The Perfect Distance by Pat Butcher, who also acts as consultant on the project.