Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-nominated Winter’s Bone star Jennifer Lawrence is in talks to star in Savages, the Oliver Stone-directed adaptation of the bestselling novel by Don Winslow. Shooting will begin in June.

The book is a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid-style love triangle between two best friend pot growers and O, the wild child girlfriend they share.  O will be played by Lawrence, who has become widely courted for roles since  studios saw her performance as the teenager desperate to save her family home in Winter’s Bone.  Somehow, sharing a bed with O created no discord in the relationship between brainy botanist Ben and Chon, a hardcore ex-Navy SEAL who returned from Afghanistan with top-quality pot and a total lack of remorse for killing to protect his pals. They live a quiet lucrative existence in Laguna Beach, growing and distributing their primo pot. Stone has been meeting with top actors to play Ben and Chon, a list that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Aaron Johnson, Tom Hardy, James Franco and Tron Legacy‘s Garrett Hedlund. He’s also courting Benicio Del Toro for the role of an Mexican drug cartel enforcer sent to muscle Ben and Chon out of business. When they resist, O gets kidnapped and the ransom is every ill-gotten cent they’ve made. They hatch a complex plan to get her back and then disappear.

Several studios are chasing the CAA-repped project, which was developed privately to streamline the process. Sure enough, Savages has a shooting script by Winslow & Shane Salerno, less than a year after Stone came aboard. Since then, the book went on to become a bestseller that ended the year on many Top 10 lists, including The New York Times. It has been a breakout for Winslow, a former private detective who has been knocking on the door in Hollywood for years—his novel The Winter of Frankie Machine once had Martin Scorsese and then Michael Mann poised to direct Robert De Niro, and several of his other books had been optioned at one time or another by studios. Moritz Borman is producing with Stone. and Eric Kopeloff. Salerno is executive producer.

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