Oscar-nominee John Hawkes and Oscar-winner Allison Janney have come on board for roles in the real-life-inspired feature “To Leslie.” The actors join previously announced lead Andrea Riseborough. Mister Smith Entertainment is handling international sales and will introduce the project this month at virtual Cannes. UTA Independent Film Group is representing U.S. sales.
Michael Morris (“Bloodline,” “Better Call Saul”) will direct the screenplay written by Ryan Binaco (“3022”). Claude Dal Farra and Brian Keady of BCDF Pictures are producers along with Kelsey Law of Clair de Lune Entertainment. Binaco is executive producing.
“To Leslie” tells the story of a West Texas single mother (Riseborough), who won the lottery and squandered it just as fast, leaving behind a world of heartbreak. Years later, with her charm running out and nowhere to go, she fights to rebuild her life and find redemption. Binaco wrote the screenplay inspired by the life of his mother.
Hawkes will play Sweeney, a lonely motel manager living a quiet life in West Texas, who takes a chance on Leslie when no one else will. Janney will portray Nancy, a Harley-loving ex-biker with a mean streak, who refuses to let Leslie live down her past.
Hawkes is known for crafting memorable performances across a wide range of styles and genres. His latest projects are the features “End of Sentence,” currently streaming on Amazon, and “Peanut Butter Falcon,” which won a number of critics’ honors as well as being recognized by the National Board of Review and winning the audience award at SXSW. Additional credits include Nicholas Winding Refn’s crime drama “Too Old to Die Young,” which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” which won the Toronto Film Festival Audience Award along with the SAG Award for Best Ensemble.
Hawkes has delivered tour de force performances in a succession of films. For his outstanding portrayal of real-life poet Mark O’Brien in “The Sessions,” Hawkes won best actor from the Independent Spirit Awards, and was nominated for a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award. In addition, the film won the audience award and a special jury prize for the ensemble cast at Sundance. His critically acclaimed performance as Teardrop in “Winter’s Bone” earned him an Independent Spirit Award win and an Academy Award nomination for supporting actor, along with nominations from the Screen Actors Guild and several film critics groups.
Janney, the seven-time Emmy winner who earned the 2018 Academy Award for her role in “I, Tonya,” is receiving more critical acclaim for her turn in HBO Film’s crime-drama “Bad Education” opposite Hugh Jackman, and was recently seen playing famed attorney Susan Estrich in Jay Roach’s “Bombshell.”
Morris directed the pilot of Netflix’s “Locke & Key.” He also most recently helmed episodes of “Better Call Saul,” “Preacher,” and “Halt and Catch Fire” for AMC, and “13 Reasons Why” for Netflix. His episodic directing credits also include “Billions” and “Shameless” for Showtime as well as “House of Cards” and “Bloodline” for Netflix.
BCDF has been developing an array of book franchises for film and TV, including New York Times bestseller “The Language of Flowers,” which will star Kiersey Clemons and Nick Robinson; bestseller “The Hating Game,” which shoots this summer with Lucy Hale and Robbie Amell starring; and international bestseller “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.”
Hawkes is repped by Innovative Artists, Thruline Entertainment, and attorney Todd Rubenstein. Janney is repped by Gersh, Thruline, and Nelson Davis. Morris is repped by UTA and Erik Hyman at Paul Hastings.