After headlining two movies that debuted on the fall festival circuit — “Suburbicon” and “Downsizing” — Matt Damon has found a new project. He’s set to star as John R. Brinkley, a real-life 20th century doctor who conned his patients into thinking that he had discovered the cure to impotence, in the drama “Charlatan,” Variety has learned.
The movie marks another collaboration for Damon as a producer with Kimberly Steward, who worked together behind-the-camera on the Oscar-winning drama “Manchester by the Sea.” Steward’s company K Period Media, which she launched in 2013 with a mandate to tell edgy stories, will co-produce the movie with Damon’s Pearl Street Films alongside Jennifer Todd.
The independent film is based on a best-selling 2008 non-fiction book, “Charlatan: America’s Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam,” by Pope Brock. The screenplay will be adapted by the writing team of Brian Koppelman and David Levien (“Ocean’s Thirteen,” Showtime’s “Billions”).
Brinkley started up a clinic in Kansas in 1918 with the promise of restoring male virility (among curing other ailments) using a quack surgery involving the implantation of goat testicles. The scheme quickly made him rich, until he was accused in court of the deaths of several of his patients from botched procedures.
WME negotiated the deal and will handle the worldwide sale of the film.