EXCLUSIVE: While Ben Affleck laid aside plans to direct his scripted adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel Live By Night to play the Caped Crusader in Batman V Superman, Affleck is squarely back and moving again on the Prohibition Era tale. He’s setting Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana and Elle Fanning to play the female leads in a film that reunites Affleck with Lehane, whose novel Gone Baby Gone served as Affleck’s superb feature directorial debut. Affleck is producing the film through Pearl Street, with Appian Way’s Jennifer Killoran Davisson and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Live By Night uses some of the characters from Lehane’s sprawling period novel The Given Day and brings them into Prohibition. The focus is Joe Coughlin, the black-sheep son of a police captain who gets involved in escalating levels of organized crime. The deal with Lehane and his agent AEllmy Schiffman at IPG made back then brought Warner Bros rights to Given Day. That sprawling classic of a novel waits for someone to tackle it.
Miller will play Emma, a girl Coughlin falls in love with at the beginning of the story. She also happens to be the girlfriend of his mobster boss. Saldana plays Graciella Suarez, a woman he meets later as he becomes involved in organized crime in Tampa. Fanning plays Loretta Figgis, a sheriff’s daughter and aspiring actress who gets into trouble. That role had been particularly coveted by young actresses around town.
Lehane has turned into a major screenwriter himself, scripting the Toronto-bound The Drop (the Michaël R. Roskam-directed drama stars Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini and Noomi Rapace), and he just made a deal to write Ashecliffe, a prequel to his novel Shutter Island, for an HBO series that has Martin Scorsese poised to direct the pilot.