Hot off his Emmy nomination for his role in “Under the Banner of Heaven,” Andrew Garfield is in talks to portray billionaire business mogul Richard Branson in a limited series called “Hot Air,” Variety has confirmed. The series will be directed by David Leitch (“Deadpool 2”), with Universal International in discussions to produce.
Universal International Studios declined to comment.
The six-part series is written by Jon Croker (“Paddington 2”), based on the book “Dirty Tricks: British Airways’ Secret War Against Virgin Atlantic” by investigative journalist Martyn Gregory. The story follows Branson through the unbelievable rise of his company, Virgin Airways, and the campaign by British Airways to bring it down.
Branson’s company launched in 1984 and began to take hold of the British airline industry by 1990, at which point BA became threatened by VA’s growth. In response, BA launched a campaign against VA, impersonating employees and using passenger records to attempt to poach customers from Branson’s company. After Branson complained to the European Commission about BA’s “dirty tricks,” BA launched a negative (and false) press campaign against Branson. He sued, and the case was settled, with BA paying Branson damages and legal fees.
Branson, now 71, currently has a net worth of $4 billion and the Virgin Group controls more than 400 companies worldwide. He was one of a few billionaires in the race to make space travel a luxury experience, until the Federal Aviation Administration began investigating Branson last year after reports that a Virgin Galactic flight veered off course during a joyride.
Croker and Garfield executive produce with Leitch, Kelly McCormick and Dan Seligmann of 87North; Babak Anvari and Lucan Toh of Two&Two; and Michael Grade, Peter Gerwe and Ivan Dunleavy of StoryFirst.
Garfield is repped by CAA and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern; Leitch is repped by Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole; and Croker is repped by CAA, Grandview, Independent Talent Group and Jackoway Austen Tyerman.
Deadline was the first to report the news of the limited series and Garfield’s involvement.