Unknown drama student cast as West Memphis 3's Damien Echols
EXCLUSIVE: After a nationwide search for the right actor to play Damien Echols — the West Memphis Three ringleader who recently got off of Death Row — Atom Egoyan has tapped unknown drama student James Hamrick, who is currently enrolled at Wesleyan, for THE DEVIL'S KNOT, Variety's Jeff Sneider reports. Hamrick beat out dozens of experienced Hollywood thesps for the role, putting himself on tape after his drama school rival at Coastal Carolina University saw a casting notice and encouraged him to submit based on his resemblance. With shooting scheduled to start June 25 in Georgia, filmmakers were under the gun to find their Damien; Hamrick flew to Atlanta on Wednesday morning to audition for Egoyan and won the part by day’s end. Based on journalist Mara Leveritt’s bestselling book of the same name, DEVIL'S KNOT follows private detective Ron Lax (Colin Firth), who took on the West Memphis Three case pro bono. He found DNA evidence linking Terry Hobbs (Alessandro Nivola), the stepfather of one of the three murdered boys, to material that was used to bind one of the young victims. That evidence helped convince a judge to release the trio last year. Pic also stars Reese Witherspoon, Mireille Enos, Collette Wolfe and Kris Polaha, while Kristopher Higgins will play Misskelley Jr. Amy Ryan and Dane DeHaan are also in talks to join the cast.