March 4, 2011 -- A multi-continent manhunt. Scandalous sexual assault allegations. Top-secret government documents.
The real-life story of Internet activist Julian Assange and his whistleblower website WikiLeaks is fraught with so much drama, it's no wonder Hollywood wants to bring it to the silver screen.
A DreamWorks spokesman confirmed that the company has bought the film rights to two books about the controversial website and the mysterious man behind it -- "WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy," by David Leigh and Luke Harding, and "Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website," by Daniel Domscheit-Berg -- but he declined to share any details.
Still, that hasn't stopped the Web speculation on how the fictionalized story might play out and who might get cast in a film. Below, take a look at a who's who in the real-life WikiLeaks drama and the stars that potentially could play them in a Hollywood thriller.
Julian Assange, WikiLeaks Founder
The international man of mystery himself, Julian Assange is the Australian publisher and programmer who launched WikiLeaks in 2006 to give whistleblowers an avenue to expose the truth. But the noble goal has landed him a spot as public enemy No. 1 for countries around the world. Sweden wants to try him for sexually assaulting two women. The U.S. wants to prosecute him for leaking thousands of diplomatic cables.
Casting the enigmatic, fair-haired former hacker is no easy task. Online polls have favored Paul Bettany, who played the albino-like Silas in "The Da Vinci Code," Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgard and "How I Met Your Mother" star Neil Patrick Harris. Even alabaster-skinned actress Tilda Swinton has made some lists.
But maybe Leonardo DiCaprio is the one with the right amount of star power and intensity to play this leading man. Sure, he might need to slap on some make up and grow out his hair. But the actor has proven his ability to hold audiences in thrillers such as "Inception," "Shutter Island" and "The Departed."
"For Julian, either Leonardo DiCaprio or Ryan Gosling would be great," said Michael Musto, a celebrity and entertainment columnist for the Village Voice. "They both excel at playing controversial real-life figures, and they could easily provide the role with charm, danger and ambiguity."
Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Former WikiLeaks Spokesman, Defector and Author
He was once Assange's right-hand man, but now Daniel Domscheit-Berg has said, "Sometimes I hate him so much that I'm afraid I'd resort to physical violence if our paths ever cross again."
In a recent interview with Wired magazine, the WikiLeaks defector and author of "Inside WikiLeaks" said he and Assange were best friends until they had a falling out last year. Not only has he penned a book criticizing WikiLeaks, he's launched a rival website called OpenLeaks.
With his budding beard and brooding looks, Christian Bale could be a top contender to play the part of Assange's friend-turned-enemy. The Oscar-winning actor not only is known for his fiery performances on and off stage, he's also worked with DreamWorks partner Steven Spielberg before. Bale's silver-screen debut was in Spielberg's "Empire of the Sun" at age 13.
Bradley Manning, U.S. Soldier Accused of Giving Information to WikiLeaks
Remember those classified WikiLeaks documents that caused an international firestorm? The military believes Bradley Manning is the man that leaked them in the first place. This week, the Army filed 22 new charges against Manning, who currently is being confined at the brig at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia.
Whoever plays Manning in a movie needs to blend an activist's idealism with a military man's resolve. One possibility? Baby-faced Tobey Maguire. He not only does earnest well, he got a taste of military life in his role as Capt. Sam Cahill in "Brothers."
Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State
When WikiLeaks released thousands of embarrassing diplomatic cables, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the one who owed world leaders an explanation. In an online interview with Time magazine, Assange indicated that she should step down.
Marc Malkin, an entertainment columnist for E! Online, said he knows at least one woman in Hollywood who is ready for the challenge.
"I think it's time Annette Bening takes on the role," he said. "She has the acting chops, she has the political chops."
Miss A and Miss W
Little is known about the Swedish women accusing Assange of sexual assault, but in a British court they were referred to as "Miss A" and "Miss W."
According to news reports, one is a 31-year-old feminist activist and the other is a 27-year-old "admirer." Both claim Assange forced himself on them.
"You want sexy, mysterious women ... since we don't know much about them," said Malkin, adding that Keira Knightly could play the role of one woman.
Robin Wright, who will star in David Fincher's movie "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" later this year, potentially could play the role of the other woman. In that film, she will play the role of Erika Berger, a Swedish magazine publisher and feminist.
Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General
The man leading the criminal investigation against Assange, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said that WikiLeaks' documents threatened the country.
"The lives of people who work for the American people [have] been put at risk," Holder said. "The American people themselves have been put at risk by these actions that are, I believe, arrogant, misguided and, ultimately, not helpful in any way. We are doing everything that we can."
Although playing a government big-wig would be a first for him, actor Will Smith projects the kind of moral integrity needed to play an attorney general. And think back to "Independence Day" and "Men in Black." Smith is no stranger to taking on the role of a protector.
Christine Assange, Julian Assange's Mother
When the international police agency Interpol issued a "red notice" in December to track down Assange, his mother, Christine Assange, stepped out of the shadows in his defense.
"He's my son and I love him and, obviously, I don't want him hunted down and jailed," she told Australian radio at the time.
Since then, she has spoken to media around the world on his behalf.
Not only does Christine Assange bear a resemblance to actress Susan Sarandon, she appears to share her streak of activism too. The Hollywood luminary is famous for using her voice onscreen and off to raise awareness about a range of political causes.