Dafoe sees ‘Clearing’

Nivola in negotiations for role, lensing to begin Sept. 23

Willem Dafoe has been tapped to topline as the villain in Fox Searchlight’s drama “The Clearing” opposite Robert Redford and Helen Mirren.

Dafoe will portray a disgruntled employee who kidnaps wealthy exec (Redford) and negotiates a ransom through the exec’s wife (Mirren).

Alessandro Nivola (“Jurassic Park III”) is in negotiations to play the couple’s son. Lensing is scheduled to begin Sept. 23 in North Carolina.

Pic will be helmed by producer Pieter Jan Brugge and produced by Thousand Words’ Palmer West and Jonah Smith with a script by Justin Haythe. Exec VP production Claudia Lewis will oversee the project for Searchlight.

Dafoe’s casting comes on the heels of his recent work as the Green Goblin in “Spider-Man” and a murder suspect in Sony Pictures Classics’ upcoming “Auto Focus.”

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