Will star opposite Shue in MGM pic

Aaron Eckhart, who earned raves for his feature debut as the unctuous misogynist in Neil LaBute’s “In the Company of Men,” has landed the lead opposite Elisabeth Shue in MGM’s “Molly.”

John Duigan (“Lawn Dogs,” “Sirens”) will direct from Dick Christie’s script. Amy Heckerling and Bill MacDonald will take on producing chores.

“Molly” is a fact-based pic about a man (Eckhart) who takes care of his autistic sister (Shue) after she is released from an institution. Soon after, a miraculous medical treatment is discovered that not only cures the woman of her autism, but transforms her into a genius.

Pic, which is being overseen by MGM prexy Michael Nathanson, is expected to go into production later next month.

After a series of roles on TV — which included his portrayal of Samson in the CBS special “Ancient Secrets of the Bible, Part II” and the ABC sitcom “Aliens in the Family” — Eckhart’s turn as the villainous yuppie in “Company of Men” has propelled him into leading-man status. The Brigham Young grad has since landed co-starring roles in LaBute’s follow-up, “Friends and Neighbors,” and the feature “Thursday,” both for Gramercy Pictures.

Eckhart is repped by Scott Melrose of Paradigm and attorney Barry Hirsch.

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