EXCLUSIVE: Michael Shannon is set to make his directorial debut with Eric Larue, a movie based on the Brett Neveu play that debuted in 2002 at A Red Orchid Theatre in Chicago, where Shannon is a founding member. Neveu is also adapting the script.
The film had been scheduled to shoot in Arkansas. But since the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v Wade triggered that state’s Act 180 of 2019 which bans nearly all abortions, including cases of rape and incest, the filmmakers have withdrawn from Arkansas and will now be shooting in and around Wilmington, NC.
For Neveu, Eric Larue‘s origin as a play was in response to the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. The play premiered in 2002 at the Red Orchid. Almost 15 years after its debut, Shannon was directing the play Traitor (which is a new retelling of Neveu’s An Enemy of the People) when the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL took place. Those shootings led to Neveu adapting his original play into the feature film Shannon will direct.
The film follows Janice, the mother of 17-year-old Eric, who shot and killed three of his classmates. As Janice faces a meeting of the mothers of the other boys, and a long-delayed visit to her son in prison, the story becomes not about the violence but about what we choose to think and do in order to survive trauma.
“Eric Larue has so much to say about our country, about the way we try (sometimes quite ineptly) to deal with the trauma of living here, which is so insidious because it does not present itself overtly in concrete terms most of the time,” Shannon said. “Like most great stories, Eric Larue plays at the macro and a micro level simultaneously. When I read the screenplay, I immediately knew I had to direct it. I saw it. I heard it. I could feel it. And I wanted to make sure that it received just the right touch in all its aspects, because at the end of the day, it is an extraordinarily delicate thing.
“I find it interesting to align with artists possessing the most vivid imaginations, the most stringent yet empathetic senses of morality, and the most passionate and rigorous disciplines to create worlds and stories that contribute to our experience and understanding of what it is to be a human being in this day and age and, particularly, this country.”
The pic will be produced by Sarah Green from Brace Cove Productions, Karl Hartman from Big Indie Pictures and Jina Panebianco from CaliWood Pictures. Jeff Nichols, R. Wesley Sierk III, Byron Wetzel, Meghan Schumacher, Joh D. Straley and Declan Baldwin will executive produce. This will mark the seventh film Shannon, Nichols and Green have worked on.
On the acting side, Shannon will next be seen in Bullet Train opposite Brad Pitt as well George and Tammy opposite Jessica Chastain. He also has Amsterdam coming up.
Neveu is repped by Meghan Schumacher Management and Lichter, Grossman, Nichols, Adler, Feldman & Clark. He most recently wrote and produced the feature Night’s End for Shudder.