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Unknown James Hamrick Joins Atom Egoyan's West Memphis Three Drama 'Devil's Knot'; Joins Firth, Nivola, Enos, Witherspoon

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood June 14, 2012 at 4:53PM

Atom Egoyan ("The Sweet Hereafter") is directing "Devil's Knot," based on the true story of the West Memphis Three (Damien Wayne Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr.), who were recently released from Death Row and featured in both HBO's "Paradise Lost" doc trilogy (Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky) and Amy Berg's "West of Memphis."
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Damien Echols with "Paradise Lost" filmmakers Sinofsky and Berlinger
Damien Echols with "Paradise Lost" filmmakers Sinofsky and Berlinger

Canadian auteur Atom Egoyan ("The Sweet Hereafter," "Chloe") is directing "Devil's Knot," based on the true story of the West Memphis Three, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr., who were recently released from Death Row after eighteen years in prison. Their long quest for justice was featured in both HBO's "Paradise Lost" doc trilogy (from directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky) and Amy Berg's investigative Sundance entry "West of Memphis," produced by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Echols, which helped to break the case.

Egoyan has chosen a drama student from Wesleyan University, James Hamrick, to play Echols. Shooting starts later this month in Georgia, where Hamrick flew after submitting an audition tape.

Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson adapted journalist Mara Leveritt's book, "Devil's Knot." Produced by Worldview Entertainment, the film will also star Colin Firth as private detective Ron Lax, who helped the trio, and Alessandro Nivola as Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of one of the boys who the Memphis Three were falsely convicted of killing. Lax uncovered evidence that linked Hobbs to the murders and led to the three's release. Rounding out the already impressive line-up are Reese Witherspoon and Mireille Enos ("The Killing") as well as Kristopher Higgins as Misskelley Jr.

Expect 2013 Oscar talk.

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.