Ron Howard’s passion project Hillbilly Elegy based on the J.D. Vance memoir of the same name is quickly coming together as the cast grows with the addition of Gabriel Basso, known for his role in the indie dramedy The Kings of Summer, in the lead role, according to Deadline.
Basso, who’s best known for his roles in the J.J. Abrams sci-fi monster blockbuster Super 8 and the Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Kong: Skull Island)-helmed indie dramedy The Kings of Summer, joins the previously cast Glenn Close (The Wife) in the role of the family matriarch, as well as Amy Adams (Sharp Objects).
Vance’s memoir centers on growing up in the Rust Belt and is a personal analysis of the white underclass, race, and privilege in America. Vance, raised poor among working-class “hillbillies,” explores his childhood and family struggles as they navigate drug addiction and social and economic challenges. Supported by his larger-than-life grandmother, he developed a deep appreciation for education that laid the foundation for him to rise out of poverty and its cultural restraints.
The movie adaptation has become a passion project for Howard, who will direct. Vanessa Taylor (The Shape of Water, Game of Thrones) will pen the screenplay. Howard will also produce alongside his Imagine Entertainment partner Brian Grazer and Karen Lunder. Julie Oh will serve as executive producer.
Netflix acquired the project after outbidding competitors to the tune of $45 million.
Hillbilly Elegy will likely begin production later this year. Howard is currently wrapping up production on the documentary Pavarotti, which takes a look at the life and work of opera legend Luciano Pavarotti. Close was last seen in The Wife, which earned her her seventh Academy Award nomination, though she lost to Olivia Colman in The Favourite.
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