Nicole Holofcener is taking a break from making movies about affluent, eccentric women of her own invention in favor of focusing on one who actually existed. The director’s latest project is an adaptation of Lee Israel’s memoir Can You Ever Forgive Me, in which the celebrity biographer alternately described and bragged about forging and stealing correspondence from literary authors like Dorothy Parker and Eugene O’Neill. Julianne Moore is in talks to star as the proudly defiant forger, whose 2014 obituary in the New York Times included compliments from both the FBI agent who investigated her case and one of the victims of her apparently excellent forgeries.
This is Holofcener’s first trip into the realm of what could technically be called “true crime,” even if the deeds in question involved regular typewriters instead of the Chicago variety. The director’s last film was the romantic comedy Enough Said, which followed her usual Woody Allen-inspired rhythms as it paired together Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and James Gandolfini in one of his final roles. But now, Holofcener is apparently leaving Woody behind in favor of a subject more in tune with Orson Welles, full of the potential for misdirection and tricks. Meanwhile, Moore—whose next big movie appearance will be as the icy President Coin in the final installment of The Hunger Games—will have to capture the hard-drinking Israel’s “feisty” energy and defiance of a conventional life, which lead her to sell more than 400 forged letters and stolen originals to autograph hunters. Israel famously claimed in Can You Ever Forgive Me that her forgeries were the best work of her career.