Mike Fleming

Jessica Brown Findlay Winter's TaleEXCLUSIVE: Akiva Goldsman has found his leading lady for Winter’s Tale, the Warner Bros adaptation of the 1983 Mark Helprin novel that the Oscar-winning scribe will make his feature directorial debut. I’m told that Jessica Brown Findlay beat out a slew of young actresses for the female lead. Findlay plays Lady Sybill Crawley in Downton Abbey.

Winter's Tale Mark HelprinIn Winter’s Tale, she will play a dying woman who falls in love with a thief who breaks into her home, a palatial West Side mansion, in a drama that takes place in 19th century and contemporary Manhattan. Right now, Warner Bros is close to setting the thief, with Aaron Johnson and Garrett Hedlund the frontrunners. In addition, Russell Crowe is in final negotiations to play half a demon named Pearly Soames, and Will Smith is rumored to be attached as well. The latter two are smaller roles and came out of past collaborations between the actors and the writer. Goldsman, who won his Oscar for scripting A Beautiful Mind, worked with Crowe on that film, and Smith on I Am Legend. Shooting will begin October 15 in New York. WME reps Findlay, who is managed by Management 360 and repped in the UK by Troika.

Goldsman’s Weed Road is based at Warner Bros, and the studio is in talks to make The Dark Tower, the Goldsman-scripted adaptation of the mammoth Stephen King novel series that will be directed by Ron Howard. Javier Bardem was attached to play lead gunslinger Roland Deschain when the project was at Universal, and Goldsman is producing with Brian Grazer and King.