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Neil Burger to Direct Adaptation of Purple Heart Veteran Mary Jennings Hegar’s Memoir (EXCLUSIVE)

“Divergent” helmer Neil Burger will direct an untitled film based on the memoir by Purple Heart veteran Maj. Mary Jennings Hegar, sources tell Variety.

Angelina Jolie is circling the lead role of Hegar. The Gotham Group is producing.

The current draft of the movie will be written by Alice O’Neill and Burger; the previous versions of the screenplay were penned by Frank Baldwin and Jason Hall. O’Neill and Burger most recently collaborated on the Showtime series “Billions,” where O’Neill currently serves as story editor, and Burger served as an executive producer and directed the first two episodes. They also co-wrote the screenplay “Tara Delaney,” with Burger also attached to direct.

The book was originally brought to the studio by Nicole Brown, who will oversee the project with Hannah Minghella.

As detailed in her memoir “Shoot Like a Girl,” Hegar earned a Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross for serving three tours of duty in Afghanistan as an elite rescue pilot, flying dangerous search and rescue missions in hot zones, and transporting hundreds of men and women off the battlefield under extreme circumstances. Perhaps her greatest accomplishment occurred on U.S. soil, though, where she opened the front lines for women by successfully taking on the Department of Defense, arguing that the Combat Exclusion Policy barring women from combat duty was unconstitutional and unjust.

Burger most recently directed “The Upside,” starring Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston, based on the critically acclaimed French film “The Intouchables.” His other credits include “Limitless,” starring Bradley Cooper; “The Illusionist,” toplined by Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti; and his directorial debut, “Interview With the Assassin.” He is repped by CAA and Anonymous Content.

O’Neill previously wrote “Buttercup,” which appeared on the Black List. She is repped by ICM Partners and the Gotham Group.

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