Kit Harington & Jessica Chastain headline The Death and Life of John F. Donovan
Entertainment One’s Seville International and Quebec-based distribution arm Les Films Séville, alongside producers Lyla Films and Sons of Manual, have announced The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, the first English-language feature film from award-winning writer/director Xavier Dolan. The all-star ensemble cast includes Kit Harington (Pompeii, “Game of Thrones”), Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, Crimson Peak), Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking, About Ray), and Kathy Bates (Titanic, “American Horror Story”).
In The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, 10 years after the death of an American TV star he corresponded with as a teenager, a young actor recollects the pen-pal relationship he used to have with his past idol. The film explores the hardships of fame and hurdles of the movie business through the lives of both, now and then, and reflects on the issue of identity and diversity in Hollywood over the past decade.
“I couldn’t feel safer in anybody else’s hands. To know that eOne will be financing this movie is a true mark of their friendship and loyalty,” said Dolan. “We’re embarking ourselves on quite a journey here – this film is by far my most ambitious, and it has its heaps of risks – but to know I’ll be doing this with the help of eOne and Séville International brings me much freedom, and relief. I feel like these people are family now, and this new collaboration certainly proves that blood is thicker than water. We’ve been working together since Tom at the Farm, as our Quebec distributor. Then came ‘Mommy,’ on which they handled sales beautifully, as well as domestic distribution, and then ‘It’s Only The End of The World,’ which we will release next year. And now ‘John F. Donovan.’”
“I’ve been meaning to tell that story for a long time – before I wrote ‘I Killed My Mother.’ It always is precarious to venture into movies on movies. Everyone scowls when they hear about the next movie on the business. But this isn’t a movie on the business. It is a movie about a man trying to make it, trying to live his dream and his life all at once, and being told that he basically can’t. It also is about a kid dreaming of having this man’s life for all the wrong reasons, not realizing how painful it actually is. I was that kid, writing love letters to actors – as a matter of fact it seems like I still am. And that story is a tribute to both the kid I was and the idols of my childhood – some died, some just disappeared without a trace, because they didn’t fit,” Dolan continued.
“There were moments of doubt where I thought I couldn’t make that film, or tell that story. But it is so deeply anchored within me and such an important part of the past years of my life spent witnessing all the peculiarities, contradictions, inequities and phobias of this business that I realized I just had to make this movie, no matter what. And dye Jessica’s hair carmine red, asap,” Dolan also stated.
Lyla Films’ Lyse Lafontaine and Sons of Manual’s Xavier Dolan and Nancy Grant will serve as producers along with executive producer Joe Iacono.
“As Xavier’s first English-language feature, it’s very exciting to be announcing the film ahead of the AFM. Alongside Nancy and Xavier, I am thrilled to be working with Seville International on this compelling world-class project,” said Lafontaine.
“We are thrilled to partner with Lyse, Xavier and Nancy on this landmark film, and to share it with the world. Xavier is on a roll and we are incredibly excited to be along again for this, his next great adventure. His incredible passion, storytelling genius and track record of success have brought this remarkable cast together and we can’t wait to discuss the film with our partners at AFM,” said Anick Poirier, Senior Vice President of Sales, Seville International. “It’s a priority for Les Films Séville and eOne to support and encourage the growth of Canadian talent by building strong, long-term relationships. It is particularly gratifying to accompany such an ambitious creator as Xavier Dolan who continues to pursue his unique vision in his own special way. I was blown away by the script for ‘The Death and Life of John F. Donovan’ and I am deeply satisfied that our participation will permit this project to become a reality,”added Patrick Roy, President, eOne Films Canada & Les Films Séville.
Production is set to begin Spring 2016.
(Photo credit: WENN)