Three time Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson is set to star in the feature film adaptation of Joseph Kessel’s novel “The Man With the Miraculous Hands: The Fantastic Story of Felix Kersten, Himmler’s Private Doctor.”
Oren Moverman, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of “The Messenger,” is set to write and direct the film which is being produced by Jerico Films, a division of Vendome Group, the banner behind the Sundance prize-winning movie “Coda.”
The World War II psychological thriller will star Harrelson (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” “The People vs. Larry Flynt”) in the lead role as Felix Kersten, a Finnish-born medical professional who was reluctantly pulled into the Third Reich’s corridors of power as Heinrich Himmler’s personal physician and prisoner. Oren Moverman has signed on to write and direct.
The project marks the latest collaboration between Moverman and Harrelson, who previously teamed on “Rampart” and “The Messenger.” “The Man with the Miraculous Hands,” a Jerico Films production, will be produced by Eric Jehelmann and Philippe Rousselet with Fabrice Gianfermi and Jeremy Plager serving as executive producers.
“The Man with the Miraculous Hands” depicts Kersten’s remarkable true story as the physician whose therapies helped to relieve Himmler’s debilitating abdominal pain, thereby giving him extraordinary influence over one of the main architects of the Holocaust. With clever manipulations, and a flair for dangerous negotiation with his monstrous patient, Kersten was able to ultimately save thousands of lives from the concentration camps and outlive his captor.
“Even 70 years on after the end of the conflict, the Second World War still manages to reveal some of the most deeply moving untold stories of those who managed to triumph against adversity,” said Jehelmann, who added that Kessel’s novel “sheds new light on the end of the war.”
The producer said Felix Kersten “really is the true definition of a modern-day hero, who manages to restore our hope in mankind while reviving in our minds the 20th century’s worst nightmare.”
Jehelmann described Harrelson and Moverman as “two jewels of American cinema” and said the pair will “help (them) create a moving, politically accurate and authentic film.”
Vendome Group is rolling off of Sian Heder’s “Coda,” a moving coming-of-age drama starring Emilia Jones which swept three awards at Sundance after being bought by Apple Studios in a $25 million deal. “Coda” is a remake of “La Famille Belier,” a French movie produced by Jerico Films. The company recently announced “Code Name Hélène,” a TV series based on New York Times’ bestselling author Ariel Lawhon’s World War II spy thriller by the same name.
Moverman most recently served as producer on HBO’s “Bad Education,” winning an Emmy for Outstanding Television Movie in 2020.