EXCLUSIVE: Sean Ellis to direct, Cillian Murphy to co-star in assassination film.

Jamie Dornan and Cillian Murphy are to lead cast in WWII thriller Anthropoid, about the attempted assassination of prominent Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich.

The film’s title refers to the code-name for the Allied operation to assassinate Heydrich, the head of the SS who was one of the main architects of the Holocaust and was widely considered number three in the Nazi ranks behind Hitler and Himmler .

Operation Anthropoid was led by two soldiers (trained by British forces) from Czechoslovakia’s army-in-exile who were parachuted into their homeland to carry out the mission against the Nazi nicknamed “The Butcher of Prague”.

Oscar and BAFTA-nominated British filmmaker Sean Ellis (Metro Manila, Cashback) will direct from a script co-written by Ellis with Anthony Frewin (Colour Me Kubrick: A True…ish Story).

Producers are Leonard Glowinski (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) for 22h22, Anita Overland (Rush) and Chris Curling (The Last Station).

Krystof Mucha and David Ondricek (Lucky Man Films) are co-producers for the Czech Republic. Altitude Film Sales will handle international sales.

The European production is due to be financed through a combination of private equity, UK public investment, Czech financing via the tax rebate and private equity) and pre sales with shooting due to get underway in Prague in July 2015.

The red-hot Dornan is atop many casting lists after the huge box office success of Universal drama 50 Shades of Grey. Peaky Blinders and Inception star Murphy will next be seen in Ron Howard adventure-drama In the Heart of the Sea.

Dornan was represented by UTA and United Artists and Murphy by CAA, Lou Coulson Associates and Lisa Richards Agency.

Director Sean Ellis said: “I feel incredibly proud to bring the story of Anthropoid to the big screen. I have been fascinated by the story for the last 14 years and find it immensely humbling to explore the bravery of the men and women of the Czech resistance who sacrificed themselves for the freedom of their country while dealing a blow into the heart of Nazi Germany. In the Czech Republic, It is a story of great national pride and it’s time to tell the world that story.”

Mike Runagall, managing director of Altitude Film Sales added: “Anthropoid is a riveting World War II thriller that brings an incredible true story of heroism into sharp focus. With a stellar cast and filmmaking team, this has all the ingredients to truly resonate with audiences worldwide.”

The intriguing project is one of two scripts about the assassination plot currently known to industry, with producer Alain Goldman also gathering support for David Farr script HHhH, an adaptation of the Laurent Binet novel, which has yet to announce cast or a sales company.

Dornan is also lined up to star in Congo-set thriller The Siege of Jadotville, which is due to shoot in the spring.