Par sends Dunst to Iraq

Thesp finds relief in Ruzicka story

Kirsten Dunst is back in business with Paramount Pictures, and this time her character will go much further than “Elizabethtown.”

Dunst will play Marla Ruzicka in a film about the 28-year-old American relief worker who was killed in Iraq by a suicide bomber. Lorene Scafaria has been set to write the script. Marc Platt is producing with MTV Films.

Studio and the producers made a deal last summer for Ruzicka’s life rights, as well as a book that’s being written about her by Jennifer Abrahamson. Abrahamson had planned to collaborate on the book with Ruzicka, and they had turned out a number of pages that were going to serve as a book proposal.

Ruzicka was a dynamo in her quest to get reparations for the scores of civilian casualties after the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions, compiling lists of war victims and seeking compensation and medical treatment from the U.S. government. The org she founded, the Campaign for Innocent Victims of Conflict, raised $28 million to assist casualties of war in those countries.

Ruzicka and her driver were killed in April when a suicide bomber crashed into a security convoy they were trailing.

When the project was shopped, several studios bid on it, but Paramount was most aggressive after being tipped off by Platt Prods. exec Abby Wolf-Weiss. Par production co-prexy Alli Shearmur supervised the buy.

Scafaria was set after a meeting Friday with Dunst. Her recent scripting credits include “The Mighty Flynn” for Warner Independent and “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist” for Focus. She’s also penning a script based on her pitch “The Understanding” for Universal and Double Features partners Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher and just sold a TV show to ABC and Touchstone, which Chris and Paul Weitz’s Depth of Field will produce.

Dunst recently wrapped the title role in the Sofia Coppola-directed “Marie Antoinette” and next will reprise her role as Mary Jane Watson alongside Tobey Maguire in the Sam Raimi-directed “Spider-Man 3.”

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