Ben Stiller will channel his best Norman Mailer in a new true crime movie.

James Folta

May 10, 2024, 11:41am

Images from Montclair Film and Bernard Gotfryd

Ben Stiller is set to play writer Norman Mailer alongside Oscar-nominated-and-robbed actor Colin Farrell in the upcoming Belly of The Beast. The movie is set to be directed by Andrew Haigh of All of Us Strangers fame, and co-adapted by Haigh and Alexis Jolly, from the book Jack and Norman by academic and literary critic Jerome Loving.

The true crime story follows Mailer’s connection with Jack Henry Abbott, an inmate convicted for a string of crimes in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Mailer helped Abbott become a minor literary star, publish a prison memoir, The Belly of the Beast, and secure release from prison. But on the day before a rave review of his memoir ran in The New York Times, Abbott murdered a waiter and fled the country.

Colin Farrell definitely has the range to play an inmate with literary aspirations, but I’m having trouble seeing Stiller as Mailer. I’m a big Stiller fan—his short ‘90s sketch show is very underrated—and while I can see him as a guy who co-founded The Village Voice, I think he has too kind of a face for the worst sides of Mailer, the man who stabbed his wife and head-butted Gore Vidal.

But most of all, congrats to literary critic and professor Jerome Loving on selling the adaptation rights! Hoping this is the year all the lit critics get Hollywood deals.

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