Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Fast-rising British actress Felicity Jones will play the female lead opposite Jonah Hill and James Franco in True Story, the Rupert Goold-directed adaptation of the memoir by Michael Finkel. Finkel’s the disgraced New York Times journalist who resurrected some of his career after discovering that an accused murderer had stolen his identity, and that he would only talk to his namesake.

Hill is playing Finkel and Franco is playing Christian Longo, who was captured in Mexico after rising near the top of the FBI Ten Most Wanted List for allegedly killing his family. Dave Kajganich wrote the script. Hill’s coming off the small but pivotal role of Bag Head #2 in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, and Franco next opens in Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers.

Jones will play the journalist’s long-suffering girlfriend, who tries to stand by her guy even after his screwups cost them everything. Jones next stars in Amazing Spider-Man 2, and her latest with Like Crazy helmer Drake Doremus, Breathe In, premiered in Sundance. She’s still scheduled to play the female lead in the Howard Hughes pic that Warren Beatty wrote, stars in and will direct. Jones is repped by WME and Independent Talent Group.

Plan B’s Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Brad Pitt are producing True Story with New Regency. It’s a fascinating and bizarre true story. Finkel was a writer at The New York Times Magazine in 2002 when he learned of Longo’s capture and that the accused killer had taken the journo’s name. The very next day, the real Finkel was fired by Times editors, right after they ran an editor’s note declaring that he had falsified parts of an investigative article. His career seemingly over, Finkel was given a shot at redemption when Longo declared that Finkel was the only journalist he would talk to. That led to a surreal relationship with the accused murderer, who was trying to declare his innocence. Unraveling the mystery was a chance for Finkel to salvage something of his career.

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