Thora Birch To Direct Elmore Leonard Adaptation ‘Mr. Paradise’

Thora Birch (American Beauty) will make her feature directorial debut with an adaptation of Elmore Leonard‘s 2004 crime novel, Mr. Paradise.

Gary Michael Walters, a producer on the Jake Gyllenhaal film The Guilty, is producing under a new banner called Walters Media Group, and is in Cannes putting the project together.

The novel revolves around Kelly, an aspiring model who witnesses a murder and gets caught in a web of intrigue. But as Detective Frank Delsa begins to investigate, nobody seems to be playing it straight; least of all the two trigger-happy hit men cruising Detroit’s mean streets.

Leonard is known as one of the masters of the hard-boiled crime novel. His work was the inspiration for movies including Jackie Brown, Get Shorty, Out of Sight, 3:10 to Yuma and the TV series Justified.

Birch said in a statement: “I find [Leonard’s] 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.”

Birch is best known for her roles at the turn of the century in American Beauty and Ghost World. In recent years she’s been a recurring character on The Walking Dead. She’s always been known for her roles as outsiders, so it will be interesting to see how she brings those qualities to a film about the seedy underbelly of society.

Walters founded Walters Media Group in March, with the company’s first film being Classified, which stars Aaron Eckhart, Tim Roth, and Abigail Breslin. It’s currently in post-production.


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