Academy Award winner George Clooney stars in the title role of The American for director Anton Corbijn (Control). Focus Features holds worldwide rights to the suspense thriller, which begins production this week on location in Italy. Focus CEO James Schamus made the announcement today.

The screenplay by Rowan Joffe is adapted from Martin Booth's novel A Very Private Gentleman, published in 2005. The film's producers are This is that's Anne Carey, who most recently produced Adventureland and The Savages; Smokehouse's Grant Heslov, an Academy Award nominee as producer and co-writer of Good Night, And Good Luck., and producer/director of this fall's The Men Who Stare at Goats; Smokehouse's Mr. Clooney; Ann Wingate, who most recently produced Into the Storm, starring Emmy Award winner Brendan Gleeson; and Jill Green, executive producer of the long-running U.K. television series Foyle's War. Enzo Sisti, co-producer of the upcoming When in Rome, is executive producer of The American.

Alone among assassins, Jack (played by Mr. Clooney) is a master craftsman. When a job in Sweden ends more harshly than expected for this American abroad, he vows to his contact Larry (Bruce Altman of this fall's Peter and Vandy) that his next assignment will be his last. Jack reports to the Italian countryside, where he holes up in a small town and relishes being away from death for a spell. The assignment, as specified by a Belgian woman, Mathilde (Thekla Reuten of Focus' award-winning In Bruges), is in the offing as a weapon is constructed. Surprising himself, Jack seeks out the friendship of local priest Father Benedetto (Italian screen and stage veteran Paolo Bonacelli) and pursues romance with local woman Clara (Italian leading lady Violante Placido). But by stepping out of the shadows, Jack may be tempting fate.

Focus senior vice president, production Kahli Small and creative executive Michael Pruss are supervising the project for president of production John Lyons. The American is Mr. Corbijn's second feature film as director, following the award-winning 2007 drama Control, for which the director was honored with two British Independent Film Awards. The latter feature's cinematographer and editor, Martin Ruhe and Andrew Hulme, respectively, are rejoining Mr. Corbijn on The American; Mark Digby and Suttirat Larlarb, both of Slumdog Millionaire, are production designer and costume designer, respectively. Mr. Schamus said, "The combination of a visionary artist of the stature of Anton Corbijn with the great George Clooney is, for all of us at Focus, a movie marriage made in heaven."