Gary Oldman tipped as lead recruit for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy film

British actor set to play John Le Carré's cold war hero George Smiley in Tomas Alfredson's film

Gary Oldman looks set to star as down-to-earth spook George Smiley in a big-screen version of John Le Carré's cold war thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, according to Production Weekly. The new adaptation – Alec Guinness starred in a television outing for the BBC in 1979 – will be shot by the Swedish director Tomas Alfredson, best known for his beguiling vampire horror, Let the Right One In. The Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Queen and Frost/Nixon, Peter Morgan, has penned the script.

Other potential cast members include Colin Firth, Michael Fassbender and David Thewlis, all of whom are said to be in negotiations, though their possible roles have not been made clear. Alfredson was previously attached to The Danish Girl, which was to star Nicole Kidman as the male-to-female transsexual artist Lili Elbe, but has dropped that project in favour of the Le Carré adaptation.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which Le Carré published in 1974, centres on the middle-aged former intelligence expert Smiley, who is called out of forced retirement to find a Soviet mole in the "Circus", the highest level of MI6. In may ways, the character is the anti-James Bond, having little of 007's style and swagger. Yet the story is an enduring one – BBC Radio 4 also produced a radio adaptation in 1988.

Alfredson's Let the Right One In is also getting the Hollywood remake treatment, with Cloverfield's Matt Reeves directing the retitled Let Me In. Kick Ass's Chloe Moretz will play vampire child Abby (Eli in the original), and the action has been relocated from the Stockholm suburbs to New Mexico. The film hits cinemas in October.

• This article was amended on 11 June 2010. The original refered to Tomas Alfredson as being Danish. This has now been corrected.


Ben Child

The GuardianTramp

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