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Londongrad - What We Know So Far

Benedict Cumberbatch, who is no stranger to biopics, is taking on another real-life figure to portray, with the newly announced "Londongrad" in development for HBO. As reported by Variety, Cumberbatch will play Alexander Litvinenko, a KGB agent who was poisoned by Polonium-210 in 2006, in the upcoming miniseries.

David Scarpa is writing the series, which is based on the nonfiction book, "The Terminal Spy" by Alan Cowell. Scarpa's other writing credits include 2008's "The Day the Earth Stood Still," 2017's "All the Money in the World," and the upcoming Ridley Scott-directed "Kitbag" starring Joaquin Phoenix and Jodie Comer (via IMDb). Bryan Fogel is set to direct the series. Fogel's previous directing credits include the two documentaries, 2017's "Icarus" and 2020's "The Dissident." Cumberbatch, Scarpa, and Fogel will all be executive producing as well.

Read on to find out everything else we know so far about "Londongrad," including its release date, cast, and plot.

When will Londongrad be released?

As of this writing, there's no release date available for the upcoming project. "Londongrad" appears to be in its very early stages — it isn't even up on Benedict Cumberbatch's IMDb page yet — with just the foundational details announced. With that in mind, it may be a while until we get an update on when we can expect to see "Londongrad" on HBO.

To speculate further, we can look at another recent HBO miniseries, the much-talked-about "Mare of Easttown." "Mare of Easttown" was announced with Kate Winslet as its star in January of 2019, with about the same amount of information we currently have for "Londongrad," as reported by Variety. "Mare of Easttown" then premiered in April of 2021. Going by that timeline, we can expect to see the "Londongrad" premiere in a little over a year, which could mean approximately late 2022 or early 2023.

Who will be in Londongrad?

Benedict Cumberbatch is the only actor announced for "Londongrad" so far. Cumberbatch has played real-life figures in several previous projects, most recently the titular artist of "The Electrical Life of Louis Wain," which was just released to limited theaters last week. Additionally, he's played preacher and slave owner William Prince Ford in 2013's "12 Years a Slave," WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2013's "The Fifth Estate," scientist Alan Turing in 2014's "The Imitation Game" and politician William M. Bulger in 2015's "Black Mass." In more recent years, he portrayed British engineer Greville Wynne in 2020's "The Courier" and American lawyer Stuart Couch in 2021's "The Mauritanian." His portrayal of Turing in "The Imitation Game" earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

Cumberbatch is also no stranger to television roles, where has also received plenty of acclaim. His turn as the titular character in the BBC drama "Sherlock" is easily one of the most notable roles of his career thus far and earned him a slew of nominations and even an Emmy win. His starring role in the Showtime miniseries "Patrick Melrose" also garnered praise, as he got an Emmy nod and a BAFTA win for it.

Cumberbatch has a handful of other upcoming projects, including "Spider-Man: No Way Home" and "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," both of which will see him reprise the character of Doctor Strange that he has been playing within the MCU since the 2016 film of the same name. He'll also be seen in another miniseries called "The 39 Steps" and films "Rogue Male" and "Rio."

What will Londongrad be about?

The Variety announcement doesn't say much about the plot of "Londongrad" — all we know so far is that it will "[tell] the true story of Alexander Litvinenko, the KGB agent and later defector killed by poisoning with the radioactive isotope polonium-210 in 2006 in England."

Looking at the Goodreads page for the book which "Londongrad" is based on, Alan Cowell's "The Terminal Spy: A True Story of Espionage, Betrayal and Murder," gives us a bit more insight into what the series may cover. First of all, KGB agent Litvinenko is described as an émigré who spoke strongly against Russian President Vladimir Putin. Additionally, the book is framed around how Litvinenko is poisoned by a "rare radioactive isotope," and it focuses on the people accused of the murder. However, the book also dives into who exactly Litvinenko was and what happened in his life to lead up to his murder.

While it's unclear exactly how much "Londongrad" will stick to its source material, we can likely expect all of the details listed about to show up in the miniseries. There's a lot of content to unpack and it will be interesting to see how the series tackles it — the story could easily be told through a nonlinear narrative, for example. We'll just have to wait and see how Litvinenko's story plays out on screen when "Londongrad" makes its way to HBO.