Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn will return to his roots with a follow-up to his 1996 debut and breakthrough film Pusher.

Shooting from late January, Pusher II will see the local heartthrob Mads Mikkelsen (Open Hearts, The Green Butchers, King Arthur) reprise his role from the first film, but this time in a leading role as the story focuses on his character Lenny who is released from prison, determined to change his life.

Pusher was the first feature to show the underbelly of Danish society and Refn will continue this documentary approach in Pusher II as well as in the planned third instalment, Pusher III, which will follow a third character from the original film, played by Zlatko Buric (Dirty Pretty Things).

The film will be a co-production between longtime collaborator Henrik Danstrup and Nordisk Film, which will also distribute the film. Writer-director Refn won critical acclaim for his first English-language film, Fear X starring John Turturro. However, like most other English-language Danish films in 2003, it failed to find an audience at home, effectively closing the production outfit NWR which Refn had launched with producer Danstrup.

However, with their new company Billy's People, they are now producing the Pusher-films as well as Refn's highly anticipated next English-language project, Billy's People. Pusher II is backed by broadcaster TV2/Denmark, the Danish Film Institute and new UK company Pusher II Ltd run by Rupert Preston.