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New Cast Added to Mister Smith, UTA-Sold Janney, Riseborough-Starrer ‘To Leslie’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Andre Royo, Owen Teague, Jonathan Tucker
Credit: /Benjo Arwas /Eric Williams.

BCDF Pictures and Clair de Lune Entertainment’s family drama “To Leslie” will make its market debut at this year’s Marché du Film Online, sold internationally by Mister Smith Entertainment, which shared details of the film’s now-finished casting with Variety.

Jonathan Tucker, Andre Royo and Owen Teague will join previously announced cast members Andrea Riseborough, Allison Janney and John Hawkes.

Claude Dal Farra and Brian Keady from BCDF are producing alongside Kelsey Law of Clair de Lune Entertainment. Michael Morris (“Bloodline,” “Better Call Saul”) will direct from Ryan Binaco’s screenplay. UTA Independent Film Group is selling domestic rights to the drama.

Based on events from Binaco’s mother’s life, “To Leslie” turns on a single mother in West Texas (Riseborough) who wins the lottery but almost immediately squanders the money and her relationship with her son. Having burned many bridges, the film picks up as Leslie attempts to rebuild her life with help from lonely motel manager Nancy (Janney).

“It’s quite a contained film, so in practice it could shoot in the summer. Late summer, early  September perhaps,” said David Garrett, CEO of Mister Smith Entertainment.

Tucker, a regular on Showtime’s “City on a Hill,” will play Petey, a young man bent on tormenting Leslie for his own amusement, while Royo, best- known for his portrayal of Bubbles in HBO’s “The Wire,” plays Royal, an upbeat burnout intent on keeping his friend Sweeney (Hawkes) from getting involved with Leslie. Teague, a Steven King regular from the “It” films and CBS’ upcoming “The Stand” adaptation, plays James, Leslie’s estranged son.

Tucker is repped by UTA, Management 360, and Hansen Jacobson Teller Hoberman; Royo is repped by Buchwald, Management 360, and Morris Yorn; Teague is repped by CAA, Nils Larsen, and Myman Greenspan; and Morris is repped by UTA and Erik Hyman at Paul Hastings.

“To Leslie” is one of three films Mister Smith brings to Cannes, along with “Balestra,” a psychological thriller starring Tessa Thompson and animated feature “Mooned.”

The second feature from Nicole Dorsey, whose “Black Conflux” was voted one of Canada’s top 10 films of 2019, “Balestra” is a “really smart script and super clever dark psychological thriller. A kind of ‘Black Swan’ set against the backdrop of the world of fencing,” Garrett said. It stars Thompson, whose credits also take in “Thor: Ragnorak” and “Avengers: Endgame,” as a disgraced competitive fencer attempting Olympic comeback whose experiments with a prototype device extends her training  into her sleeping hours.

Marwan Kenzara –  who caught attention as a “Hot Jafar” in Guy Ritchie live-action Aladdin” – co-stars.

Tessa Thompson has been training relentlessly in lockdown, at her fencing. She’s really ready to go and definitely committed to this one,” Garrett said.

Making its market debut, like “Balestra,” “Mooned” is written and directed by Steven D. Katz, director of “Protest,” and producer of “Through the Moebius Strip,” and co-produced Joel Cohen, a writer on “Toy Story,” “Cheaper by the Dozen” and “Garfield.” Described as a “rollicking lunar adventure,” it turns on Rabbit, whose peaceful, solitary life is uproariously upended by the arrival of two competing moon-landing missions from Earth. Rabbit hatches a plan to play them against each other and save his home. Yu-Fai Suen, who produced “Sherlock Gnomes” for Elton John’s Rocket Pictures, is on board as one of the producers.

“Mooned” serves an under-served market, Garrett argued. “Even though you have a lot of animation shows on TV, if you have young children, here’s never that much to see at the cinema as a family. “‘Mooned’ is a cute and captivating story for the whole family.”