Pinter to adapt bigscreen ‘Sleuth’

Hit play has already spawned 1972 film version

Castle Rock has acquired rights to turn the Anthony Shaffer play “Sleuth” into a screen vehicle for Jude Law.

Playwright Harold Pinter has been set to adapt the play for the screen. Law will produce the film with his partner Tom Sternberg and Simon Halfon.

The stage drama revolves around a brilliant thriller writer and society fixture who is so galled to lose his wife to a hairdresser that he concocts a detailed plan to gain revenge. The play, a battle of wits between two characters that is filled with tricks and turns, was a huge hit. Shaffer adapted it into a 1972 British film that drew Oscar nominations for Laurence Olivier, Michael Caine and director Joseph Mankiewicz.

Pinter, who has never seen the film, is basing his adaptation entirely on the play. Law got the idea to do the movie from Caine, who may join him onscreen. Law would play the hairdresser role that Caine originated in the film. If Caine takes part, he’d play the writer role Olivier performed in the pic. Since the new film will retain Britain as its setting, Law and Sternberg reached out to Pinter, hoping they might spark his interest. The themes of power, gamesmanship, sexual politics and wit appealed to the playwright.

Law, who most recently starred in “Cold Mountain” (skedded for a Christmas release), met Sternberg when the latter produced “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” Sternberg has also produced “Apocalypse Now” and most recently the Diane Lane starrer “Under the Tuscan Sun” for Disney.

Castle Rock will finance the development and distribute through Warner Bros. Castle Rock just released the Lawrence Kasdan-directed adaptation of the Stephen King thriller “Dreamcatcher.”

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