HBO Films has acquired rights to the Walter Mosley novel “Little Scarlet” for a feature that will cast Jeffrey Wright and Mos Def as Easy Rawlins and Mouse — the roles originated by Denzel Washington and Don Cheadle, respectively, in Carl Franklin’s 1995 film “Devil in a Blue Dress.”
Mosley is writing the script, with HBO Films eyeing a theatrical release via its venture with Picturehouse. Rosalie Swedlin and Debra Martin Chase will produce, and Mosley also will be involved in a producing capacity.
When Mosley made his “Devil” deal with TriStar, he retained rights to the characters in his books if they became dormant. He recovered those rights, and HBO Films sparked to “Little Scarlet,” the 2004 novel that’s considered one of the strongest in the mystery series revolving around Rawlins, a janitor and unlicensed private eye, and Mouse, a killer who helps Rawlins crack cases.
Wright and Def haven’t decided who’ll play which role.
“Little Scarlet” takes place in L.A. right after the 1965 Watts riots. White cops, afraid to poke into the murder of a black woman when the suspect is a white man she sheltered, draft Rawlins to investigate.
Mosley previously adapted another of his novels into “Always Outnumbered,” an HBO drama that starred Laurence Fishburne.
Wright, next seen in “Lady in the Water,” is filming “Casino Royale.” Def was last seen in “16 Blocks.”