Esteemed auteur William Friedkin – who helmed classic 1970s pics like The Exorcist and The French Connection – has found a leading man for his new dark comedy, Killer Joe, in the form of pretty boy actor Matthew McConaughey.
The plot of the film involves a brother and sister who devise a scheme to collect on the insurance money from their mother’s death by having her murdered by a contract killer/cop named “Killer” Joe Cooper (McConaughey). Emile Hirsch recently completed work on the sci-fi thriller The Darkest Hour and will play the brotherly half of the conspiring siblings.
Killer Joe will mark Friedkin’s second collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-winning screenwriter Tracy Letts, who worked previously with the director on his paranoia horror flick Bug in 2006. Shooting on the project is scheduled to begin on November 8th of this year and will take place in and around New Orleans.
Professional assassins in movies tend to vary from the more eccentric, suit-wearing men of 1990s pics like Gross Point Blank and Pulp Fiction (see below) to the morose and haunted type of killer seen in more recent films like The American. Hit men have often been employed for (macabre) comedic effect in Hollywood films and have many a time been personified by handsome, A-list actors. Killer Joe will fit right into that mold.
McConaughey is not generally regarded as a particularly solid or charismatic thespian and his appeal with moviegoers is generally attributed to his physical appearance. The actor could work well in Killer Joe simply because his handsome features would contrast so vividly – and hopefully hilariously – with his character’s immoral occupation.
Friedkin’s output of films over the past decade have at best performed moderately at the box office and are generally considered inferior to his previous works. The premise of Killer Joe may not be especially innovative, but a black comedy about murder could be a nice fit for Friedkin’s darker sensibilities.
Killer Joe will likely arrive in theaters sometime in 2011.