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Willem Dafoe has joined Edward Norton in the thriller “Motherless Brooklyn,” Norton’s long-in-development adaptation of the Jonathan Lethem novel.

Norton is attached to direct from his own script and produce through his Class 5 Films production company. Other current producers are William Migliore, Stuart Blumberg, MWM Studios’ Gigi Pritzker, and Rachel Shane. Sue Kroll, who exited Warner Bros. last month following a major shakeup, is exec producing.

The novel won the 1999 National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. Lethem’s protagonist, Lionel Essrog, has Tourette syndrome and works as a private eye at a makeshift detective agency.

Norton will star as Essrog in the film, set in 1954. The story focuses on a young woman protesting against a powerful developer, who designs neighborhoods as slums so his people can buy up property. Dafoe will play the developer’s brother.

Dafoe recently received his third Academy Award nomination for his supporting role as motel operator Bobby Hicks in “The Florida Project.” He was previously nominated for Oliver Stone’s “Platoon” in 1986 and “Shadow of the Vampire” in 2000.

Dafoe’s recent credits include “Dog Eat Dog,” “The Great Wall ” with Matt Damon, and “Murder on the Orient Express.” Dafoe can be seen next in Julian Schnabel’s “At Eternity’s Gate” and in James Wan’s “Aquaman,” opposite Jason Momoa. He’s repped by CAA and Circle of Confusion. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.