I don’t pay attention to Hollywood online media hype, but I was amused by the frisson created earlier this month when Reese Witherspoon and Emilia Clarke posed together at the Critics Choice Awards.
Here’s why: About a decade ago, the production company Reese then ran, Type A, became involved in the development of my book “Above Suspicion,” in a partnership with the wonderful and indefatigable Colleen Camp. Reese, I was told, was even considering playing the role of Susan Smith, the Kentucky coal-miner’s daughter killed by the FBI agent for whom she worked as a criminal informant, and with whom she had a very unwise sexual relationship.
I always believed that “Above Suspicion,” a true story, was as much about the two women tragically orbiting the FBI agent — his wife and his informant/lover — as about the handsome and doomed agent Mark Putnam himself. Both Mark and his wife Kathy cooperated fully with me in the book. Susan Smith, of course, was dead, but I put a lot of reporting time and effort in trying to create as accurate and multifaceted a depiction of Susan as I could, given the limitations of fact-based reporting.
The “female gaze” aspect of “Above Suspicion” is clearly what attracted Reese to the project, which languished in development-land for another decade before Emilia got it into production when she signed on to play Susan (with Jack Huston playing Mark, Sophie Lowe as Kathy, the fabulous Thora Birch as Susan’s hard-charging sister, and Johnny Knoxville as Susan’s (sometimes charming and sometimes not) sometimes-husband).
The movie — directed by Phillip Noyce, screenplay adaptation by Chris Gerolmo — wrapped on location in Harlan, Ky., in July 2016 and was finished in December. As I’ve said here before, Emila’s stunning performance as Susan is being hailed at advance screenings as a likely candidate for an Oscar nomination next year.
This isn’t official yet, and as subject to change as anything else in Hollywood, but I am told the release is scheduled for late August. So I’m waiting to see the trailer.