Devil’s Knot, the film based upon journalist Mara Leveritt’s book exploring the case of the West Memphis Three, will begin shooting next week. Award-winning Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter, Chloe) is directing, which promises and intelligent and sensitive rendering of the material. One of the first casting decisions announced was Reese Witherspoon as Pam Hobbs, mother of eight year old Stevie Branch, who was murdered on May 5, 1993. Then British actor Colin Firth was announced as the actor to play private investigator Ron Lax, who worked pro bono on the case and uncovered physical evidence that cast suspicion on Terry Hobbs, stepfather of Stevie Branch (who will be played by Alessandro Nivola). This discovery was a factor in the August 19th releases of Damien, Jason and Jessie (released ten months ago today).
Much speculation occurred over who would be cast as Damien, Jason and Jessie. For years many supporters have mentioned Michael Pitt as a natural to play Damien, when earlier film projects were being discussed, but at this point Pitt would be slightly too old to play a younger Damien. It turns out relatively unknown young actors have been chosen to play Damien and Jason, both actors making their screen debuts. Other cast members include Mireille Enos (of AMC’s The Killing) who will play Vicki Hutcheson, an important witness. I had thought Ms. Enos would most likely play Domini Teer, since they share a strong physical resemblance.With the only films about the case so far having been documentaries by HBO filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky (the third of which, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory premiered just last summer), a feature film may well capture a whole new audience that might have been previously unaware of this travesty of justice. Certainly there is ongoing interest in the case as investigators continue to pursue leads on who the real killers might be, now that Damien, Jason and Jessie have been released (and, with any luck, are on their way to being exonerated).