The film Kursk was set to feature an actor resembling the President, but the character is no longer featured in the script about a nuclear sub accident in 2000, the year Putin came to power, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

If the character appeared in the new Besson film, it would have marked the first depiction of Putin in a studio film.

Matthias Schoenaerts and Colin Firth will star in the Thomas Vinterberg-directed film, based on Robert Moore's bestseller A Time to Die. Ironically, the author's book did feature Putin, who was three months into his first term as President of the Russian Federation when the submarine disaster took place.

Production will begin next month (Apr17).

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter, movie mogul Besson made the decision not to use a Putin character, because he didn't want the film to become political.

Reports suggest the Russian leader, whose father was a submariner, was sympathetically portrayed in the Kursk script.

The Kursk submarine disaster took place in the Barents Sea on 12 August, 2000, killing all 118 personnel on board.

The second of two explosions was so powerful it registered on seismographs as far away as Alaska. It took Russian Navy officials 16 hours to locate the sunken sub after an emergency rescue buoy had been intentionally disabled.

Seven days later, Norwegian divers finally managed to open a hatch to the escape trunk in the ship's ninth compartment, hoping to locate survivors, but found none.