×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Drama student set as West Memphis 3 defendant

Unknown to play Damien Echols in Atom Egoyan indie

After a nationwide search for the right actor to play Damien Echols — the West Memphis Three defendant who recently got off death row — Atom Egoyan has tapped unknown drama student James Hamrick, who is currently enrolled at Nebraska Wesleyan University, to star in Worldview Entertainment’s true crime drama “Devil’s Knot.”

Hamrick beat out dozens of experienced Hollywood thesps for the role, putting himself on tape after his drama school rival at Coastal Carolina U. saw a casting notice and encouraged him to submit because of his resemblance to Echols. With shooting scheduled to start June 25 in Georgia, filmmakers were under the gun to find their Damien; Hamrick flew to Atlanta on Wednesday morning to audition for Egoyan and won the part by day’s end.

Thesp comes from an acting family, as he’s the nephew of Tony-nominated cabaret singer Sally Mayes.

Based on journalist Mara Leveritt’s bestselling book of the same name, “Devil’s Knot” follows private detective Ron Lax (Colin Firth), who took on the West Memphis Three case pro bono. He found DNA evidence linking Terry Hobbs (Alessandro Nivola), the stepfather of one of the three murdered boys, to material that was used to bind one of the young victims — evidence that helped convince a judge to release Jason Baldwin, Jessie Misskelley Jr. and Echols last year.

Worldview Entertainment is financing and producing the pic, which will be produced by Elizabeth Fowler, Clark Peterson, Richard Saperstein and Worldview’s Christopher Woodrow, as well as Paul Harris Boardman, who co-wrote the script with Scott Derrickson. Worldview’s Molly Conners, Sarah Johnson Redlich, Maria Cestone and Hoyt David Morgan will exec produce with Derrickson and actual defendants Baldwin and Misskelley Jr. CAA is repping North American rights.

In addition to Firth and Nivola, “Devil’s Knot” also stars Reese Witherspoon, Mireille Enos, Collette Wolfe and Kris Polaha, while Kristopher Higgins will play Misskelley Jr. Amy Ryan and Dane DeHaan are also in talks to join the cast, as Variety first reported.

More Film

  • Cannes Placeholder Red Carpet

    Cannes: KKR and Atwater to Launch Library Pictures, Boost Local-Language Film

    Local-language film making is to get a fillip through the launch of Library Pictures international. The company is backed by a consortium of investors led by media investment firm Atwater Capital and a newly formed Germany-based media company established by KKR. The new firm is intended as a content financing entity to support industry-leading filmmakers [...]

  • After21_0020.ARW

    Sequel to Independent Movie Hit 'After' Launches in Cannes

    “After,” the highest grossing independent film of the year so far, is set to return with a sequel, with stars Josephine Langford and Hero Fiennes Tiffin reprising their roles. Voltage Pictures is selling the new pic in Cannes. The first film, which had a reported production budget of $14 million, grossed more than $50 million [...]

  • Liam Gallagher and Son shopping at

    Cannes: Screen Media Buys 'Liam Gallagher: As It Was' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Screen Media has acquired North American rights to Charlie Lightening and Gavin Fitzgerald’s feature documentary “Liam Gallagher: As It Was.” The film follows the former Oasis frontman as he finds himself on the periphery of the rock ‘n’ roll world after years spent at the white hot center of the music world. Screen Media will [...]

  • La Casa de Papel Netflix

    Madrid Region Booms as an International Production Hub

    Madrid is booming as never before in its 125-year film history; arguably, no other European site is currently transforming so quickly into a global production hub. A 20-minute drive north of the Spanish capital, a large white-concrete hanger has been built beside the Madrid-Burgos motorway, at the entrance to Tres Cantos, a well-heeled satellite village and industrial [...]

  • Emirati Comedy

    Cannes: Stuart Ford's AGC Takes World Sales on Emirati Comedy 'Rashid and Rajab'

    Stuart Ford’s AGC International sales arm has taken global distribution rights outside the Middle East to Dubai-set concept comedy “Rashid and Rajab” which will be hitting movie theaters in the region starting in June. The deal between the film’s production company Image Nation Abu Dhabi and AGC, which have a close rapport, was signed in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content