Actor to play LAT's Lopez in fact-based drama

DreamWorks has set Robert Downey Jr. to star with Jamie Foxx in “The Soloist,” the Joe Wright-directed fact-based drama about a violin prodigy.

Downey will play Steve Lopez, the Los Angeles Times columnist who discovered Nathaniel Ayers, a downtown L.A. homeless man who was a skillful violinist. After learning that Ayers was a prodigy until schizophrenia made it impossible to continue, Lopez wrote columns about the musician and developed a relationship that changed both their lives.

Susannah Grant (“Erin Brockovich”) wrote the script.

Shooting begins in L.A. in January, with Gary Foster and Russ Krasnoff producing. Rikki Bestall is co-producing and Tim Bevan is exec producer.

The film is based on Lopez’s columns, as well as a book he wrote that will be published by Putnam next spring.

Downey, who recently wrapped the title role of the Jon Favreau-directed “Iron Man” for Paramount, is starring for DreamWorks in the ensemble cast of the Ben Stiller-directed comedy “Tropic Thunder.”

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