Fresh off roles in The Lone Ranger and Snitch, Barry Pepper has signed for Michael Cuesta’s fact-based pic about a CIA smear campaign that led to a Pulitzer-winning journalist’s downfall. In Kill The Messenger, Pepper will play federal prosecutor Russell Dodson, who is tasked with keeping a lid on the agency’s connection to the massive influx of cocaine into the U.S. by Nicaraguan contras. He tries to prevent investigative reporter Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner) from running a series of newspaper articles about the case. Focus Features picked up worldwide rights to the pic ahead of Berlin. Production starts Monday in Atlanta. Pepper, whose credits range from Saving Private Ryan to playing Dale Earnhardt in a TV biopic to True Grit, is repped by the Kohner Agency and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern.

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