We’ve all heard the old adage “truth is stranger than fiction”, but sometimes truth and fiction get all muddled up to create something even stranger still. Enter JT Leroy, or at least the story of JT Leroy — a teenage prostitute and vagrant turned author who took the literary world by storm with his 1999 debut book “Sarah”, became a sensation in the celebrity world, romanced Asia Argento, and ultimately…didn’t exist at all.
Such is the setup for the infamous literary hoax at the center of director Justin Kelly‘s biopic JT Leroy, which is coming together with James Franco, Kristen Stewart and Helena Bonham Carter in talks to star. THR reports that the I Am Michael helmer will reteam with Franco to go behind the scenes of massive ruse, adapting from the memoir and life rights of Savannah Knoop — the woman who impersonated Leroy as a man who identified a transgender in his rare public appearances.
Vulture reports that Stewart is up for the role of Knoop, while Bonham Carter is circling the role of Laura Albert, the writer behind Leroy’s works, who had all the actual talent, but none of the seedy appeal — a woman 15 years older than Leroy, a wife and mother who never turned a trick in her life. Franco is attached to play her husband…who also happened to be Knoops bother.
It’s a doozy of a story and the center of much cultural fascination. Albert and Knoop’s charade came crashing down 2005 when New York magazine published an extensive expose (a fascinating read) detailing how the two women created a faux literary sensation. Indeed, the documentary Author: The JT Leroy Story premiered just last month at Sundance to rave reviews.
Knoop herself co-wrote the film’s script with Kelly. The project will launch at Berlin’s European Film Market with a projected 2016 start of production.