Comedienne Melissa McCarthy (Spy) has signed on to star in the darkly comedic biopic Can You Ever Forgive Me? based on the memoir by novelist and literary forger Lee Israel, according to Variety. Julianne Moore (Still Alice) was previously attached to star in the film before dropping out due to creative differences. The script was written by Nicole Holofcener, who was originally set to direct, but also dropped out after becoming unavailable.
Diary of a Teenage Girl helmer Marielle Heller will be directing the film about the true story of a novelist and celebrity profiler who dedicated much of her career in the 1970s and 80s to writing about renowned figures like Katherine Hepburn, Talullah Bankhead, Estee Lauder, and Dorothy Kilgallen. After this genre hit an audience lull in the modern literary market, Israel began releasing forged letters from deceased literary figures. Once the validity of these documents came into question, she even began stealing and selling letters directly from library archives. She was finally arrested in 1993 for attempting to transport stolen goods, leading to a mere 6 months of house arrest. Israel recently died in 2014.
Fox Searchlight is distributing the project with Diary of a Teenage Girl‘s Archer Gray heading up financing.
McCarthy, primarily known for her comedic character acting in such films as Spy, The Boss, Bridesmaids, Identity Theif, and Tammie, will likely be tapping into different territory for Can You Ever Forgive Me? with this project being her first ever biopic. She has experience with dark comedies, such as in the critically acclaimed St. Vincent, but the new project will likely still show a different side to the actress. She will next be seen in Ghostbusters and Netflix’s Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life special.