By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood February 2, 2012 at 7:12PM
Best Actress front runner Viola Davis ("The Help") has been open about the lack of strong roles for African American women. It was eye-opening when I interviewed her and played clips from her career at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, where she accepted the Performer of the Year Award. Davis had commanded great roles on the stage, but had to carve memorable performances out of a series of supporting roles in TV and movies. Which she did.
Now Davis has lined up two new meaty supporting roles.
First up on her schedule is writer-director Gavin Hood's adaptation of Orson Scott Card's sci-fi novel "Ender's Game," starring Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin and Harrison Ford. Davis will play a military psychologist who looks after trainees recruited by the government to help destroy a a race of aliens.
OddLot, K/O Paper Products and Digital Domain are production partners on "Ender's Game." OddLot's Gigi Pritzker and Linda McDonough are producing with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman via their K/O Paper Products banner, as well as Lynn Hendee, Robert Chartoff and Card. OddLot's Bill Lischak and K/O's Mandy Safavi will exec produce with Digital Domain's Cliff Plumer and Ed Ulbrich.
Writer-director Richard LaGravanese (“P.S. I Love You,” “Freedom Writers") has also signed Davis to play a librarian seer in the supernatural Gothic thriller "Beautiful Creatures" for Alcon Entertainment. Set to start filming with cinematographer Philippe Rousselot in April around New Orleans, the haunting southern coming-of-age story is about two teenage lovers, a local boy and a mysterious new girl, who uncover dark secrets about their families, history and town, based on Kami Carcia and Margaret Stohl's global bestseller, the first of three in a series. Alcon has film rights to the trilogy, and Summit is selling foreign rights in Berlin.
Warner Bros will release the film via Alcon’s output deal. LaGravenese earned an Oscar nom for the original screenplay “The Fisher King."
Erwin Stoff will produce along with Alcon's co-CEOS Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson, and Molly Smith. LaGravenese will direct from his adaptation. LaGravenese, director of Alcon’s among others, is the screenwriter of such features as “Water for Elephants,” and LaGravenese’s screenplay is an adaptation of the first of the three books in this best-selling franchise that has been translated into 30 languages worldwide.
"This story successfully uses the bucolic, peaceful world of the Gothic South," says Stoff, "and the stories of families that have been rooted there for generations to tell a story of fated love... A mythic struggle between good and evil... And how each generation has the power to claim its own destiny."
"This is such a richly atmospheric story, full of magic and supernatural twists," said Kosove and Johnson. “Readers have been responding to these books in a way that bodes well for a new franchise success."