Renew Your Oprah Book Club Membership: Jennifer Lawrence and Gary Ross Reteaming for ‘East of Eden’

Ross and Lawrence

Following the success of their partnership on The Hunger Games franchise, director Gary Ross and star Jennifer Lawrence are teaming up again to remake the classic John Steinbeck tale that we all skimmed/just watched the movie instead, “East of Eden.”

For those upset that Lawrence and co. will tread on the memory of the 1955 James Dean classic, the new adaptation appears to be different enough to not make too many comparisons (or to the 1981 miniseries either). While Dean’s movie, directed by Elia Kazan, focused on the second half of the novel, East of Eden: 2013 Edition will encompass the entire novel’s material; so much so that Deadline reports Ross is planning on telling the story in two films. Which…is an inspired choice. Brace yourselves – there’s a whole lot of Steinbeck coming to a theater near you.

Lawrence will be playing Cathy Ames, the cold and calculating mother of Cal and Aron, whose role was greatly diminished in the first film by cutting down the source material to the second half of the book. She was portrayed to conniving perfection by Jane Seymour in the 1981 miniseries, however. Lawrence is very talented, and as we’ve all seen (and The Academy has confirmed) can do crazy like nobody’s business. But I’m curious to see how a 23 year-old is old enough to play the mother of these brothers. Am I mixing up my Steinbeck here?

Though it seems like making a two-parter Steinbeck film is a bit of a weird move, it appears the wheels have been in motion on this project for quite some time. Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment acquired the rights to the novel back in 2004 when Oprah announced it as her selection for her show’s book club. The first option lapsed, but they rallied and built the new deal around Ross and Lawrence.

At this time, it’s unclear whether or not Ross will also be penning the script, or who else will be joining Lawrence in the cast. There will especially be interest around who gets cast as Cal, the role made famous by James Dean.

Steinbeck is clearly having “a moment” right now – in July, Dreamworks and Steven Spielberg announced that they would be rebooting The Grapes of Wrath. How novel.

In childhood, Samantha had a Mary Katherine Gallagher-esque flair for the dramatic, as well as the same penchant for Lifetime original movies. And while she can still quote the entire monologue from A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story, her tastes in film have luckily changed. During an interview, director Tommy Wiseau once called her a “good reporter, but not that intimidating if we’re being honest.” She once lived in Chinatown and told her neighbor Jake to “forget it” so many times that he threatened to stop talking to her.

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