Woody Harrelson has signed on to star in a feature adaptation of Joseph Kessel‘s novel The Man With The Miraculous Hands: The Fantastic Story of Felix Kersten, Himmler’s Private Doctor. Oren Moverman (The Messenger, Time Out Of Mind) will write and direct the film.
The film is being described as a World War II psychological thriller, and will see Harrelson star as Felix Kersten, a Finnish-born medical professional who was reluctantly pulled into the Third Reich’s corridors of power as Heinrich Himmler’s personal physician and prisoner.
Kersten was able to relieve Himmler’s debilitating abdominal pain, giving him extraordinary influence over one of the main architects of the Holocaust. With clever manipulations and a flair for dangerous negotiation with his monstrous patient, Kersten was able to ultimately save thousands of lives from the concentration camps and outlive his captor.
This will be the third collaboration between Harrelson and Moverman, with the two previously working together on the aforementioned The Messenger – about two casualty notification officers home from the Iraq war – and Rampart, which revolves around the fallout from the titular LAPD scandal in the late 90s.
Eric Jehelmann, one of the producers of the film for Jerico films, a division of Vendome Group, said in a statement: “Even 70 years on after the end of the conflict, the Second World War still manages to reveal some of the most deeply moving untold stories of those who managed to triumph against adversity”.
This certainly sounds like a fascinating true story worth telling, and Harrelson and Moverman’s familiarity with each other hopefully enables them to access some deep emotional wells in what should be a challenging story. Let’s also hope the marketing decisions this time around don’t go as poorly as they did for Rampart.
Vendome Group is riding a high right now, as their coming-of-age drama Coda took home three awards at the Sundance Film Festival before being bought by Apple for $25 million. The company also recently announced another WWII-related project – Code Name Hélène, a TV series based on author Ariel Lawhon‘s World War II spy thriller of the same name.
Harrelson will next be seen in Venom: Let There Be Carnage, which arrives in September. He also has action-comedy The Man From Toronto and Netflix thriller Kate in the works.