Thora Birch To Direct Elmore Leonard Adaptation ‘Mr. Paradise’ For ‘The Guilty’ & ‘Oslo’ Producer Gary Michael Walters — Cannes Market

EXCLUSIVE: American Beauty and The Walking Dead actress Thora Birch is to make her feature directorial debut on an adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s 2004 crime novel Mr. Paradise.

Former Bold CEO Gary Michael Walters, producer on Jake Gyllenhaal starrer The Guilty and Emmy nominee Oslo, is producing under new banner Walters Media Group, and is in Cannes putting the project together.

Leonard, one of the masters of the hard-boiled crime novel, is the inspiration for movies including Jackie Brown, Get Shorty, Out Of Sight, 3:10 To Yuma and TV series Justified.

The story for Mr. Paradise centers on Kelly, an aspiring model, who witnesses a murder and gets caught in a web of intrigue. Michael Benton Adler and Justin Ross will also produce.

“I grew up loving so many blockbuster adaptations of Leonard’s work such as Get Shorty and Jackie Brown,” said BAFTA and Golden Globe nominee Birch about the late author. “I find his world of bumbling criminal characters, snappy dialogue, and constant pursuit of sex and status endlessly entertaining. Mr. Paradise provides an ideal new lens to view Leonard through the eyes of our intriguing female protagonist as she navigates between the Detroit underworld and a persistent police investigator. The true heart of the film is the search for an escape from the quiet desperation and decay of Rust Belt Detroit, and the hope that new love can provide that escape.”

According to Walters: “Thora brings a fresh take on the Elmore Leonard canon, and her brilliant sense of irony is a perfect fit for Leonard’s mordant humor. Leonard’s novel is a tremendous source material, and this project exemplifies my IP-driven development approach.”

Walters founded Walters Media Group in March. The first film out the game was Classified starring Aaron Eckhart, Tim Roth and Abigail Breslin, which is in post-production.

Walters produced or executive-produced all of Bold Films’ film and TV projects during his 20-year run as CEO, including hits such as Whiplash, Nightcrawler, Drive, No Escape and Legion. He was most recently Emmy-nominated for HBO’s Oslo starring Ruth Wilson and produced Netflix’s The Guilty starring Jake Gyllenhaal directed by Antoine Fuqua.

Birch made her directorial debut last year on Lifetime TV movie The Gabby Petito Story.

Gary Michael Walters

Gary Michael Walters

Courtesy photo

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