×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Carrey lights up ‘Phillip Morris’

Actor breaks into comedic prison film

Jim Carrey will star in “I Love You Phillip Morris,” a dark comedy that was written and will mark the directing debut of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the writing team behind “Bad Santa.”

Andrew Lazar and Far Shariat will produce.

Carrey will play a conman whose love for a cellmate leads him to make several prison escapes.

A financing deal for the less-than-$20 million film is about to close with Luc Besson’s Europacorp, which bested several rival bids when the project was shopped in Cannes.

Based on a book by Houston Chronicle crime reporter Steve McVicker, the fact-based film casts Carrey as Steven Russell, a married father whose exploits landed him in the Texas criminal justice system.

He fell madly in love with his cellmate, who eventually was set free, which led Russell to escape from Texas prisons four times. Script has some of the dark edges of “Bad Santa” but is grounded by the affable and lovesick character of Russell. Project was pitched to financiers as “Catch Me if You Can” meets “Brokeback Mountain.” It went to Besson, who recently declared an intention to take Europacorp public with an initial offering in Paris.

Lazar bought the book while it was in galleys four years ago and enlisted Ficarra and Requa, who wrote “Cats & Dogs” for the producer. Carrey was the first actor to whom he showed it.

The timing of the film hasn’t yet been resolved. Like many stars, Carrey is plotting back-to-back films that can be completed before the SAG contract expires next summer.

This project is one of the finalists for those slots; another is “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!,” the film Paramount put the brakes on last year. Studio, director Tim Burton and Carrey all sparked to a rewrite just turned in by Steve Oedekerk.

The “Phillip Morris” deal was put together by Carrey managers Jimmy Miller and Eric Gold and CAA, along with the writer-directors’ Endeavor reps and John Nichols, the attorney who reps Europacorp and Lazar.

More Film

  • Loureiro’s Abano, Aragón’s Caribe Music Team

    Chelo Loureiro, Emilio Aragón Team on Animated ‘Valentina’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    CANNES – Spanish producer-turned director Chelo Loureiro of Galicia’s Ábano Producións has teamed with Spanish multi-hyphenate Emilio Aragón at Caribe Music to produce the upcoming animated feature “Valentina.” Valentina turns on a girl who is tired of having Down syndrome, and believes it to be the reason she’ll never be a trapeze artist. But Valentina’s [...]

  • Morelia Brings Four Shorts To Cannes

    Morelia’s Daniela Michel Presents Four Standout Mexican Shorts at Critics' Week

    Since 2005, the Cannes Film Festival Critics’ Week and Mexico’s Morelia Intl. Film Festival (FICM) have enjoyed a reciprocal relationship. Each year, a selection of short competition films from Morelia is shown in a special selection at Critics’ Week, with the features from the Cannes section screening five months later in Morelia. The short film [...]

  • Fedor Bondarchuk Drops Teaser for ‘Attraction

    Fedor Bondarchuk Drops Teaser for ‘Attraction 2’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    CANNES–Russian director Fedor Bondarchuk and his Art Pictures Studio have released the English-subbed teaser to “Attraction 2,” the sequel to Bondarchuk’s 2017 sci-fi blockbuster, which Variety has acquired exclusively. The director behind record-breaking Russian films such as World War II epic “Stalingrad” was in Cannes this week, where he presented footage from Art Pictures’ slate of upcoming [...]

  • Gkids Takes North American Rights for

    Gkids Takes North American Rights for ‘Weathering With You’

    CANNES–Gkids, the U.S. distributor of 11 best animated feature Oscar nominees, has acquired North American rights for “Weathering With You,” the new film from director Makoto Shinkai and producer Genki Kawamura. Gkids has set an awards-qualifying run for 2019 with a theatrical release in early 2020, in both the original Japanese and a new English-language [...]

  • Transilvania Film Fest Launches New SVOD

    Transilvania Film Fest Launches New SVOD Platform

    CANNES–The Transilvania Intl. Film Festival has announced a new SVOD service, TIFF Unlimited, which will launch during the festival’s 18th edition, which bows May 31 in Cluj, Romania. The service will curate titles from current and previous editions of the festival, while also showcasing other hand-picked auteur-driven productions, presented in partnership with local distributors. It [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content