EXCLUSIVE: Olivia Thirlby (Juno, Dredd) and Nelsan Ellis (True Blood) have joined the ensemble cast of The Stanford Prison Experiment, about the infamous 1971 psychological exercise in which college students exhibited shocking cruel and sadistic behavior when divided into camps of prisoners and prison guards.
Helmed by Kyle Alvarez (C.O.G.), the Tim Talbott-scripted film stars Ezra Miller, Michael Angarano, and Billy Crudup as Dr. Philip Zimbardo, the Stanford professor who would later write the book on the psychology of good and evil behavior. Thirlby will play Christina Zimbardo, Professor Zimbardo’s wife and fellow academic. She’s currently starring in O.P.C. at the American Repertory Theater with Melissa Leo and next appears onscreen in The Wedding Ringer in January. Ellis, who had a beloved run as Lafayette Reynolds on HBO’s True Blood, will play Jesse Fletcher in Stanford. He appeared as Martin Luther King, Jr. in Lee Daniels’ The Butler and was seen earlier this year in Universal’s James Brown biopic Get On Up.
Also landing key roles in the ensemble of youngsters are Tye Sheridan (Mud, Joe, Tree Of Life), who’ll play prisoner Peter Mitchell; James Frecheville (Animal Kingdom, The Drop) as guard Townshend; Johnny Simmons (Klondike, Frank And Cindy, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower) as prisoner Jeff Jansen, and Ki Hong Lee (The Maze Runner, The Whispers) as prisoner Gavin Chan.
Sandbar Pictures and Abandon Features financed Stanford after teaming up on the recent Helen Hunt pic Ride. Coup d’Etat Films’ Brent Emery is producer alongside Lizzie Friedman, Greg Little, Brian Geraghty and Lauren Bratman. UTA packaged the film and is repping domestic sales.
Thirlby is repped by CAA, 3 Arts Entertainment, and Hansen Jacobsen. Ellis is repped by ICM Partners and Brookside Artist Management. Sheridan is repped by WME, Mosaic Media, and Stone, Meyer, Genow, Smelkinson, and Binder. Frecheville is repped by UTA, The Schiff Company, Sloan, Offer, Weber and Dern, and Active Artists Management in Australia. Simmons is repped by ICM Partners, Anonymous Content, and Sloan, Offer, Weber and Dern. Lee is repped by Stone Manners Salners and 3 Arts Entertainment.