'Fast Five' thesp to star in and produce indie thriller

Exclusive: Paul Walker will star in and exec produce the indie thriller “Vehicle 19,” a project from the 2010 Black List of best unproduced screenplays.

Mukunda Michael Dewil is writing and directing the pic about an American man with a rap sheet who travels to South Africa and finds himself unknowingly transporting a hostage to testify against a corrupt police force. Peter Safran and Ryan Haidarian are producing through their shingles the Safran Company and Forefront Media Group.

Industrial Development Corp will finance. UTA will handle North American rights.

Film is slated to shoot in August in South Africa. Pic will be Dewil’s second after this year’s South African production, “Retribution.”

Walker’s “Fast Five” bows Friday in North America and has already opened to $23 million in just three overseas markets.

The Universal franchise launched Walker and co-star Vin Diesel’s career back in 2001. When the franchise was revitalized in 2009, the studio brought back the original cast members after leaving them out of the third installment “Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift.”

Walker’s profile should continue to grow with “Fast Five” expected to have a major presence at the B.O. over the next couple of weeks,

Walker’s casting also marks another significant announcement for the Safran Company, which recently attached Barry Levinson to direct “O.K.C.” That film revolves around a file clerk working on the defense team for Timothy McVeigh and his effort to bring about the larger truth behind the Oklahoma City bombing.

Besides “Fast Five,” Walker was recently seen in “Takers” for Screen Gems.

He is repped by UTA, and Luber Roklin Entertainment.

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