EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-nominated The Florida Project star Willem Dafoe has found his next film. He’s set to join Edward Norton in Motherless Brooklyn, the adaptation of the Jonathan Lethem novel that is being done as a negative pickup through Warner Bros. Class 5’s Norton, and William Migliore are producing with MWM Studios’ Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane, and Sue Kroll is exec producing.
The film is set in 1954’s New York where Tourette Syndrome affected private eye Lionel Essrog (Norton) witnesses the murder of his only friend and mentor, by shadowy thugs. Clues lead the detective to a Harlem nightclub and a beautiful young woman named who is also leading a protest against powerful developer Moses Randolph. Randolph is having neighborhoods designated as slums so his people can buy up property to build an expressway. The private eye finds a connection between Randolph, his broken brother Paul and the young woman – the same connection that got his mentor killed. Dafoe plays the developer’s brother, a man who is beaten and broken by his brother. Unwilling to directly bring down his brother, he becomes a useful conduit of information to the private eye.
Aside from his role as the cantankerous motel handyman and guardian angel to the kids there in The Florida Project, Dafoe also has the Julian Schnabel-directed At Eternity’s Gate and James Wan’s Aquaman upcoming. Dafoe, who got the third Oscar nomination of his career, was just honored with the Cinema Vanguard Award by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. CAA and Circle of Confusion rep Dafoe.