EXCLUSIVE: Keith Clarke, who scripted the upcoming epic Ben-Hur for MGM and Paramount (with John Ridley), will next be directing A Mystery Guest in Paris based on the memoir by author Gregoire Bouillier. The contemporary dramedy, taken from the book The Mystery Guest, follows a man named Greg who falls in love with a woman whom he considers his soulmate. She suddenly ends the relationship, leaving behind Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway as his only clue as to why she left. After pining away for her almost obsessively, he gets a call ten years later asking him to be a “mystery guest” at a birthday party for someone he doesn’t know.

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Clarke and his wife/producing partner Joni Levin (a producer on Ben-Hur), have already secured financing for the film that offers a plum role for an actor. “It’s a story about heartbreak and the internal dialogue that a man has afterwards,” Clarke told Deadline. “It reads like a buddy movie between the two parts of himself, the optimist and the pessimistic, the romantic and the logical side. There is Greg one and then Greg two. It’s a tour de force for an actor because he really has to play two sides of himself.” The duo are out to actors now and are traveling to Montreal to research locations later this month. The film will be shot there and in Paris.

Clarke and Levin are both producing Mystery Guest in Paris through their Point Blank Production banner. They are targeting a spring start.

Nadine De Barros and Rob Ogden Barnum are handling the financing on behalf of Fortitude International and will be executive producers. Lisa Wolofsky is doing the same on behalf of the National Bank of Canada and will also exec produce.

Ben-Hur, based on the book by Lew Wallace, will be released on August 19. Besides Levin, those who produced the film were Mark Burnett, Sean Daniel and Duncan Henderson. (Clarke and Roma Downey are two of the executive producers).

Clarke, who was also the filmmaker behind Peter Weir’s The Way Back, is repped (along with Levin) by The Gotham Group and attorney Eric Thompson.