Hollywood action hero Steven Seagal is to star in the lead role of a new movie by the prominent Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov, the TASS news agency reported Thursday, in a union between two high-profile fans of President Vladimir Putin.
"Under Siege" star Seagal, 63, recently approached Mikhalkov at his Moscow studio with the idea to team up and shoot a Russian-American movie, with himself as the lead and Mikhalkov in the director's chair, the report said, citing Mikhalkov.
Neither Seagal nor Mikhalkov have indicated what the movie will be about, but the director said it would be evenly financed by Russian and American studios.
Mikhalkov, 69, whose magnum opus "Burnt by the Sun" won the 1995 Oscar for Best Foreign Film, told TASS he believes Seagal possesses considerable acting potential not seen in his previous roles, and wishes to showcase this untapped talent in the new movie.
A frequent guest in Russia, Seagal — who shares a love of martial arts with Putin — said last year that the Russian president is "one of the great living world leaders" and that he "would like to consider him as a brother."
He made the comments immediately after Russia's annexation of Crimea, for which he voiced his support. Seagal also attended last month's large-scale Victory Day parade on Red Square.
The films of Mikhalkov, reportedly a close friend of Putin, have become increasingly patriotic in recent years and enjoy generous state funding.