Jennifer Lawrence and Gary Ross Head East of Eden, Plan Burial Rites


First announced for development back in 2009, a new big screen take on John Steinbeck’s East of Eden has scored a director and star. Deadline brings word that the adaptation — now planned to be split into two features — will reunite The Hunger Games helmer Gary Ross with his leading lady, Jennifer Lawrence. The pair are also in the early stages of working together on another literary adaptation, Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites.

First published in 1952, East of Eden is Steinbeck’s retelling of the Cain and Abel story, set in California’s Salinas Valley. Lawrence would play the book’s chief antagonist, Cathy Ames, the mother of brothers Caleb and Aron Trask. The Ames role won Jo Van Fleet an Academy Award for Elia Kazan 1955 adaptation.

Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer are developing the adaptation with plans for Lawrence to shoot following production on the two-film The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.

Burial Rites, meanwhile, was published this summer and is officially described as follows:

In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnúsdóttir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of two men. Agnes is sent to wait out the time leading to her execution on the farm of District Officer Jón Jónsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderess in their midst, the family avoids speaking with Agnes.

Only Tóti, the young assistant reverend appointed as Agnes’s spiritual guardian, is compelled to try to understand her, as he attempts to salvage her soul.

As the summer months fall away to winter and the hardships of rural life force the household to work side by side, Agnes’s ill-fated tale of longing and betrayal begins to emerge. And as the days to her execution draw closer, the question burns: did she or didn’t she?

The project is still looking for a home, but the plan is for Lawrence to play the Magnúsdóttir role.

(Photo Credit: Joe Alvarez /