In a big casting announcement from Deadline, Kathy Bates, John Malkovich, and Lewis Pullman have all signed on to star in a new indie film. The feature, titled Thelma, will be directed by two-time Emmy Award nominee Ken Kwapis, who is known for his work behind the camera on shows such as #BlackAF and The Office.
With a screenplay written by Andrew Farotte, Thelma will center around the real life story of Thelma Toole (Bates), the mother of the Pulitzer Prize winning author, John Kennedy Toole (Pullman). After John died by suicide before ever seeing the popularity of his fictional writing, A Confederacy of Dunces, Thelma took it upon herself to make sure that the book was published and given the recognition it deserved. After years of unwavering devotion, Thelma was able to deliver the work to author Walker Percy (Malkovich), who helped the book reach new heights. Thelma and Percy won out at last in 1980 when the book was finally published and became an instant classic.
In a statement, Kwapis sounded eager to get to work on the incredible story alongside the star-studded cast, saying, “Thelma Toole is one of the most audacious characters I’ve ever encountered, and I can imagine no one better to bring her tenacity to life than Kathy Bates. With rising star Lewis Pullman in the role of her gifted, if doomed, son and John Malkovich playing literary legend Walker Percy, I feel we’re putting together a real confederacy of brilliance.”
Serving as producers will be Steven P. Wegner (Blade Runner 2049, The Blind Side) and Filmula’s Johnny Lin (American Made, Bernie).
With a long and distinct career in television and film, Bates makes a wonderful choice for this feature about a no-nonsense mother who will stop at nothing to honor her son. Over her time in front of the camera, Bates has earned an Academy Award, two Primetime Emmy Awards, and Two Golden Globe Awards along with countless nominations, including her fourth Oscar nomination for her starring role in Clint Eastwood’s 2019 film Richard Jewell.
A staple and fan favorite in the universe of Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy’s spooky anthology series, American Horror Story, Bates earned her 13th Emmy nomination for her role in the fifth season of the series back in 2016. Next up, Bates will be appearing in the Kelly Fremon Craig adaptation of Judy Blume’s timeless YA novel, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
Like Bates, her future co-star, Malkovich has also had a long and legendary career in Hollywood. In 1986, the actor scored an Emmy for his starring role as Biff Loman in CBS’ production of Arthur Miller’s, Death of a Salesman. He’s also nabbed two Oscar nominations for his parts in 1984’s Places in the Heart and The Killing Fields. Most recently, he has appeared in Netflix’s Space Force, a comedy that also stars Steve Carell and Greg Daniels. On the drama side, Malkovich has starred in HBO and Paolo Sorrentino’s The New Pope. Next, the genre-crossing actor will be in Luis Prieto’s Shattered and Randall Emmett’s Wash Me in the River.
The two Hollywood legends will be joined by Pullman who has starred in the films The Strangers: Prey at Night and Bad Times at the El Royale and enjoyed a recurring role on the Catch-22 miniseries. Things are really starting to take flight for Pullman as he will soon appear in Top Gun: Maverick and a film adaptation of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot.
We can’t wait to get more information surrounding the upcoming film.