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Tessa Thompson to Star as Doris Payne in Jewelry Heist Movie (EXCLUSIVE)

Tessa Thompson has signed on to portray Doris Payne, a woman who gained notoriety for her luxury jewelry heists from stores around the world.

Thompson, whose credits include “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Creed,” and “Westworld,” will also produce the currently untitled film with Codeblack Films’ Jeff Clanagan. Codeblack is launching the project after having obtained Payne’s life rights.

The film is conceived as a high-concept action-drama in the vein of “Catch Me if You Can” and  “The Thomas Crown Affair.” Codeblack Films’ Candice Wilson will oversee the project.

In her six-decade long career, Payne, who is now 87, would enter jewelry stores posing as a well-to-do woman looking for a diamond ring and ask to see an assortment of items. Using her charm, she would eventually cause the clerk to forget how many pieces were outside the cases and leave with one or two pieces.

Payne’s criminal record dates back to the 1950s. She was arrested many times and has admitted to having used 20 aliases, 10 Social Security numbers, and nine dates of birth.

Payne was the subject of a 2013 documentary, “The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne,” where she described in detail many of her crimes, from the earliest thefts in her youth, up to her arrest in 2011 for stealing a diamond ring from a Macy’s department store. The trial for this crime was chronicled in the documentary, and her last interview in the film took place in prison.

Codeblack Films, which is part of Lionsgate, also has an Angela Davis biopic in active development. Its drama “Traffik” — starring Paula Patton, Omar Epps, Roselyn Sanchez, and Laz Alonso — opens April 27.

Thompson is represented by Greene & Associates Talent Agency, Mosaic and attorney Jeff Bernstein.

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