Dakota Johnson, Jason Segel and Oscar winner Casey Affleck are set to star in the indie drama The Friend, which hails from Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite, it was announced Wednesday.
The Friend tells the extraordinary true story of Nicole and Matthew Teague, who — after learning that Nicole has just six months to live — receive the unexpected support of their best friend, who decides to move into their family home and put his own life on hold. His impact on everyone is much greater — and more profound — than anyone could have imagined.
Johnson and Affleck will play the Teagues, while Segel will play the couple’s best friend. Brad Ingelsby wrote the script, which is based on Matthew Teague‘s National Magazine Award-winning article that first appeared in Esquire Magazine. Ridley Scott‘s Scott Free banner will produce with Black Bear Pictures, while Scott himself will serve as an executive producer. Production will start next month in Fairhope, Alabama, where the real Teague family resided.
Kevin Walsh, Michael Pruss and Ryan Stowell will produce for Scott Free alongside Black Bear boss Teddy Schwarzman (Ben Is Back), whose staffers Ben Stillman and Michael Heimler will serve as executive producers alongside Ingelsby, Teague, Scott and Ted Deiker. Scott Free’s Rebecca Feuer will serve as an associate producer. Black Bear is set to fully finance the film, which STXinternational will present to buyers at the upcoming European Film Market in Berlin. Endeavor Content arranged the financing and will handle U.S. sales.
“I’m thrilled and honored to see the story come to life this way, thanks to the filmmaking vision of Gabriela Cowperthwaite and a script that Brad Ingelsby and I worked on closely together. It captures what’s at the heart of the story: deep love and loss, and the saving grace of friendship,” said Matthew Teague. “To have the talents of Dakota Johnson, Jason Segel and Casey Affleck help the story live on is remarkable. And I’m grateful to Scott Free and Black Bear, who have been both passionate and sensitive from day one. I hope the story gives people an honest glimpse of what it means to face mortality, and the value of having a true friend at your side, when that moment comes.”
Cowperthwaite previously directed the 2017 Kate Mara–Edie Falco war drama Megan Leavey, as well as the acclaimed 2013 documentary Blackfish, which went on to earn a BAFTA nomination for Best Documentary. Ingelsby is no slouch himself, having previously written the Scott Cooper drama Out of the Furnace (which co-starred Casey Affleck) and the 2015 crime drama Run All Night starring Liam Neeson.
Best known for Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Freaks and Geeks, Segel is an actor who doesn’t work nearly enough, in my opinion. He was genuinely excellent as David Foster Wallace in the indie movie The End of the Tour, and I’m eager to see his upcoming TV series Dispatches From Elsewhere. This is a great role for him and it’ll be nice to see him flex his dramatic chops even further. He’s coming off a pair of Netflix movies, Come Sunday and The Discovery.
Johnson is coming off the poorly-reviewed trio of Fifty Shades Freed, Bad Times at the El Royale and Suspiria (well, the latter two films have their fans, but only the first one made money), but she co-stars in two promising indies this year — Babak Anvari‘s Wounds with Armie Hammer, and The Peanut Butter Falcon with Shia LaBeouf.
Affleck won an Oscar for his heartbreaking performance in Manchester by the Sea, and he recently starred opposite Robert Redford in the underrated drama The Old Man & the Gun. He next stars in the survival movie Light of My Life, which he also wrote and directed.
The Friend is a WME package, as the agency represents Johnson, Segel, Affleck and Cowperthwaite, who is also repped by Black Box Management. Ingelsby is repped by CAA, while Johnson is also repped by Lighthouse Management. Deadline broke the news.