Carnaby International to begin sales of Damacus Cover in Berlin this week as filming commences in Morocco.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers, star of The Tudors, has taken the lead role in Middle Eastern espionage thriller Damascus Cover.

The film, which begins production in Morocco this week, will also star Olivia Thirlby (Juno, Dredd), Sir John Hurt, Igal Naor (Green Zone), Jurgen Prochnow (The Da Vinci Code) and Navid Negahban (Homeland).

London-based Carnaby International will handle worldwide sales and will begin pre-sales negotiations at Berlin’s European Film Market (EFM) this week.

Deals have already been struck in several major territories and will be announced soon, according to a spokesman for the production.

The film, produced by UK-based Big Book Media, is based on the best-selling 1977 novel by Howard Kaplan.

Directed by Daniel Berk (Public Enemies) and produced by Hannah Leader (Lucky Number Slevin, Gosford Park), the film is an espionage action thriller set in the Syrian capital. Berk co-wrote the screenplay with Samantha Newton.

Rhys Meyers said: “I’m enormously excited about this role. This was a hugely significant time in the conflict in the Middle East, post-cold war and with the collapse of the Berlin Wall when an amount of spies were redeployed to the Middle East, where the theatre of covert operations would now take precedence.

“With a highly thoughtful and intelligent script by Daniel Berk and Samantha Newton I’m thrilled to be a part of this project and can’t wait to start shooting with a very gifted international cast and crew.”

Set in 1989, as the Berlin wall falls in Europe, the plot focuses on a veteran spy sent undercover in Syria to smuggle a chemical weapons scientist and his family out of Damascus. Within days of his arrival he realises he’s being followed. His partner doesn’t show, his local contact disappears, and a group of men are trying to kill him. It’s not long before his routine mission unravels to reveal a string of murderous conspirators. Marked for death and caught in a maddening puzzle, he must race for survival.

The events and people in the script are based on true life events.

Principal photography is scheduled to take place in Casablanca from February 5 to March 23.

Supporting Big Book Media is local Moroccan production company, H Films, which recently shot Berlinale competition title Queen Of The Desert, directed by Werner Herzog and starring Nicole Kidman and Robert Pattinson.