Three-time Oscar-nominee Mark Ruffalo has closed a deal to star in Todd Haynes‘ untitled legal drama for Participant Media, Collider has learned. The project was formerly known as Dry Run, and Ruffalo signed on to produce in mid-September, though at that point it was unclear if he was going to play the lead in the film.
The project is based on Nathaniel Rich’s New York Times Magazine’s article “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare.” In addition to acquiring the rights to the article, Participant has also optioned the life rights of Robert Bilott, the attorney at the center of the legal fight against the environmental catastrophe caused by the chemical company DuPont. Ruffalo will play Bilott, who had been practicing as a corporate defense attorney for eight years when he took on the environmental suit against DuPont, which eventually exposed a decades-long history of chemical pollution.
Matthew Carnahan (Deepwater Horizon) wrote the screenplay, with current revisions being done by Mario Correa (Let Her Speak). Killer Films’ Pamela Koffler and Christine Vachon will produce alongside Ruffalo, while Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King will executive produce. Bilott will serve as a consultant on the project, which Participant’s Robert Kessel will oversee on behalf of the company. Lionsgate is handling international sales.
Haynes rarely directs projects he hasn’t developed himself, but his most recent film Wonderstruck failed to perform at the box office and drew middling reviews, which perhaps led him to reconsider his approach to material. This is certainly a powerful story in the vein of Erin Brockovich and A Civil Action, and with Ruffalo by his side, this could prove to be his best film yet.
Ruffalo and Participant have history together, of course, as the actor starred in the company’s Best Picture winner Spotlight, for which Ruffalo received his third Oscar nomination. Ruffalo has only appeared in three films since — Now You See Me 2, Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War — so it’ll be nice to see him return to dramatic adult fare. It goes without saying, of course, that he will reprise his role as Bruce Banner, aka The Hulk, in the upcoming fourth Avengers movie, which is still without a title.
Ruffalo is represented by UTA and Lighthouse Management and attorney Keith Klevan.