Actor/filmmaker Edward Norton has been trying to get a movie made based on Jonathan Lethem’s novel MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN for so long that most of us rooting for the project had mostly given up on it.
Norton’s long-in-development project might have found its savior in The Florida Project star Willem Dafoe, who received his third Oscar nomination for his role in Sean Baker’s film last week. He just signed up to play a key role in the adaptation, the Tracking Board has confirmed.
Motherless Brooklyn is being produced independently with Warner Bros on board as a negative pick-up once it’s finished. Norton adapted the novel himself, and he’ll star as Lionel Essrog as well as produce the movie through his Class 5 Films with William Migliore and Stuart Blumberg. Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane from MWM (MadisonWellsMedia) are exec. producers along with Sue Kroll.
Set in New York City in 1954, Norton’s character Lionel Essrog is a private eye with Tourette Syndrome who sees his mentor and friend be murdered by thugs, which leads him to a Harlem nightclub and developer Moses Randolph, who is buying up property to build an expressway.
Dafoe will play Randolph’s brother Paul, who has been beaten up and left broken, but might have a connection to the murder of Lionel’s mentor.
Repped by CAA and Circle of Confusion, Dafoe is following his upcoming Oscar night — in which sadly, he might lose in his category to Sam Rockwell — playing Vincent Van Goth in Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate, which filmed in November and might be preparing for a festival debut later in the year. Dafoe will also play Vulko, mentor to Jason Momoa’s Aquaman, in the James Wan-directed film, also for Warner Bros., which will be released in December.
This story was initially reported by Deadline.
Edward Douglas | East Coast Editor