And we’re back on the Devil’s Knot casting beat (and, yes, we’re pretty beat by it). Atom Egoyan‘s upcoming film documenting the tragedy of the West Memphis 3 has so far collected a cast of various talents and notoriety levels, including Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, Mireille Enos, Collette Wolfe, Kris Polaha, Kristopher Higgins, along with still-in-negotiations actors Amy Ryan and Dane DeHaan, but now the filmmaker is mining some truly undiscovered country.
Variety reports that Seth Meriwether has been tapped for the role of West Memphis 3 defendant Jason Baldwin (the outlet notes that earlier reports that Justin Castor was set for the role were “premature,” as the actor had not yet received an official offer at the time of it hitting the wire). Don’t know Meriwether’s name? Well, you wouldn’t – the kid is a seventeen-year-old high school senior from Montgomery, Alabama. Just how the heck did Meriwether land such a plum part? The outlet doesn’t say, but it does reveal that Meriwether recently filmed a “minor role” in the Clint Eastwood-starring Trouble With the Curve, so we can only assume that his work there got the word out. A brief Google search of the kid’s name also turned up a myriad of articles detailing his acting career over the years, so it looks like Meriwether has been honing his chops for quite some time.
But Egoyan has cast yet another unknown as the final member of the West Memphis 3, and this one does come with a thrilling story of that old Hollywood magic.
The outlet also reports that Egoyan has set unknown drama student James Hamrick to play Damien Echols. The production allegedly launched a “nationwide search for the right actor” for the role, one the concludes with Hamrick’s casting. Variety explains that the industrious Hamrick submitted a taped audition to the production, thanks to the advice of a “drama school rival” (a wonderful mental image) who suggested he go for the role because of physical resemblance to Echols.
Hamrick’s tape reportedly impressed Egoyan and his team so much that they flew him to Atlanta for an audition, and he was cast in the part before the day was even over, beating out “dozens” of more recognizable actors for the part.
The script for Devil’s Knot is based on Mara Leveritt’s 2003 book “Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three,” with a screenplay penned by Scott Derrickson and Paul Boardman with a rewrite by Egoyan and Boardman.