O'Connor to direct Law in Croner drama

Paramount Pictures has set Gavin O’Connor to direct Jude Law in “Dexterity,” the Karen Croner-scripted drama that is gearing up for a May start after 12 years in development.

O’Connor’s brother and Solaris partner Greg O’Connor has come aboard to produce the film with Law and his producing partner, Tom Sternberg. VP of production Pamela Abdy is overseeing for the studio.

O’Connor last directed the U.S. Olympic hockey team pic “Miracle,” and moves on to a pic that is also about underdogs. “Dexterity,” based on Douglas Bauer’s novel about a young couple in a New York factory town, was set up originally as a directing/starring vehicle for Timothy Hutton and has been through subsequent star attachments including Jason Patric, Matthew McConaughey, Bridget Fonda and Ashley Judd.

“It has been around a long time, but it is a testament to the script that Karen has been the sole writer for the entire 12 years,” O’Connor said. “It is a very human story, without the bells and whistles that Hollywood hangs on most movies these days. It’s small-town USA, the hopelessness of a dying town and a man who is dying along with it until he tries to redefine who he is. It is a throwback to movies I loved in the ’70s.”

Law will play Ed King, a blue-collar laborer who falls in love with a factory co-worker, and then struggles when the factory closes down and decimates the town.

“Jude comes from that working-class background in England and identified with the character’s struggle,” O’Connor said. “What will be interesting is the way we transform Jude. He’s going to have the look and feel of a laborer, which means he’ll put on some weight and bulk up.”

Law’s starring in three Par pics this fall — “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow,” its “Alfie” remake and “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.” He’s also in Fox Searchlight’s “I Heart Huckabees” and Col’s “Closer.”

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