EXCLUSIVE: The Frozen Ground star in talks to join crime-thriller about renegade detective.

John Cusack is in negotiations to star in UK spy thriller Kickback.

Written and to be directed by Raza Mallal of Yorkshire-based Talking Lens Productions, the crime-thriller has been in the works for some time but has new impetus with the interest of the Con Air and High Fidelity star, who joins attached cast including Mischa Barton, Sean Astin, Michael Biehn, Noureen DeWulf, John Hannah and Tamer Hassan.

Kickback, also known as Shoot the Breeze, follows a renegade Moscow detective investigating the murder of a female war journalist. He becomes embroiled in a web of counter espionage involving chemical warfare, and the assassination of the Russian president.

It marks Mallal’s directorial debut and he is co-producing with Kevan Van Thompson and executive producer Ilja Rosendahl of Scene Bridge Entertainment. DoP Douglas Milsome is attached.

Raza described Cusack’s interest as “the last piece of a jigsaw we began putting together more than two years ago”.

Phil Rochester of Talking Lens told ScreenDaily that the production has backing from private German investors and sponsorship and product placement deals as well as interest from sales outfits and distributors.

The production hailed Cusack’s interest as “the first time an independent Yorkshire-based production company has seduced a Hollywood star to play in an independently-produced feature.”

The revised shoot date for the production is winter 2013 with script amendments currently underway.

Cusack’s 2013 credits include The Frozen Ground, Adult World and The Numbers Station while upcoming features include Grand Piano, Lee Daniels’ The Butler and Five Minutes to Live.

The prolific actor’s 2014 releases are set to include Motel, Drive Hard, Love and Mercy and Maps to the Stars.