Reese Witherspoon is attached to star in Atom Egoyan’s West Memphis Three drama “Devil’s Knot.”
Pic is based on investigative reporter Mara Leveritt’s 2003 book “Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three,” which chronicled the prolonged murder trial of defendants Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr., who served 18 years in prison before being released in August. The trio were accused of killing Christopher Byers, Michael Moore and Stevie Branch, three 8-year-old boys who were found brutally murdered and hog-tied in a wooded area of West Memphis, Arkansas known as Robin Hood Hills.
Witherspoon will play Pam Hobbs, the mother of one of the victims. Hobbs originally believed that Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley murdered her son, but as the case dragged on and more details became available, she came to believe that the trio did not commit the heinous crime.
Scott Derrickson and Paul Boardman wrote the script, which they began working on in 2006 when the project was set up at Dimension Films. Egoyan recently worked with Boardman to develop the latest draft.
While there are no rights deal with Echols, Baldwin or Misskelley, the producers have secured life rights to several figures involved in the controversial case, including private investigator Ron Lax.
Production on the under-$20 million feature is expected to start in the summer.
The West Memphis 3 case has attracted heightened media attention as well as the interest of Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, who produced Amy Berg’s documentary “West of Memphis,” which will debut at Sundance.
Witherspoon, who was last seen in “Water For Elephants,” next stars alongside Chris Pine and Tom Hardy in McG’s “This Means War.” Thesp, who won an Oscar for “Walk the Line,” recently wrapped Jeff Nichols’ indie “Mud” with Matthew McConaughey.
Witherspoon is repped by CAA and Management 360.