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Richard Grant, Jane Curtin Join Melissa McCarthy’s ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’

Richard E. Grant, Jane Curtin, Dolly Wells, Anna Deavere Smith, and Jennifer Westfeldt have joined the cast of Melissa McCarthy’s dark comedy “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Variety reported in March that McCarthy would star in Fox Searchlight adaptation of Lee Israel’s memoir with “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” director Marielle Heller attached to helm from a script by Nicole Holofcener. Shooting began Monday in New York City.

Producers are Anne Carey and Amy Nauiokas of Archer Gray, partnered with Israel’s friend and longtime confidant David Yarnell. Pamela Hirsch, Jawal Nga, and Bob Balaban are executive producers.

McCarthy will portray Israel, who made her living in the 1970s and ’80s writing profiles of stars such as Katharine Hepburn and Tallulah Bankhead, cosmetics executive Estee Lauder, and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen. When she was no longer able to get published because she had fallen out of step with current tastes, she turned to deception, abetted by her loyal friend Jack, and began selling letters that she had forged from deceased writers and actors.
When the forgeries started to raise suspicion, she turned to stealing the actual letters from library archives and sold them. In  1993, Israel pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport stolen property and served six months under house arrest. She died in 2014.

Julianne Moore was initially set to star in the film, but exited in 2015 due to creative differences. Archer Gray worked with Heller on “The Diary of a Teenage Girl.”

McCarthy starred last year in “Ghostbusters” and “The Boss.” Grant starred in “Jackie” and is portraying Jack. Curtin starred with McCarthy in 2013’s “The Heat.”

“I’m overjoyed to be starting principal photography on this film, with this fantastic group of collaborators,” Heller said Monday. “Working with Melissa, Richard E. Grant and the rest of our tremendous cast, Searchlight and Anne Carey and all my wonderful producers is a dream come true. Now, more than ever, it is imperative we tell the stories of women and all people who have gone unnoticed by society. I’m honored to be helming this very special film.”

The film will be overseen by Fox Searchlight’s Co-Heads of Production Matthew Greenfield and David Greenbaum and Director of Production Taylor Friedman. McCarthy is repped by CAA and MGMT. Marielle Heller is repped by UTA.

 

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