Scarlett Johansson, in between playing Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has continued to find time to work on independent and/or prestigious fare in recent years, including such films as Don Jon, Her, and Under the Skin. That will continue to hold true in the foreseeable future, as Johansson is now attached to headline a fresh book-turned movie adaptation: the psychological thriller The Psychopath Test.
Psychopath Test is based on the 2011 book “The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry”: author Jon Ronson’s controversial (more on that later) study of psychopathic behavior and the reliability of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist. It’s being adapted for the big screen by author/scribe Kristin Gore; a former Futurama TV show story editor, who penned the source novel for Accidental Love (the troubled project eventually disowned by director David O. Russell).
Deadline is reporting that Psychopath Test will be directed for the big screen by Jay Roach, who’s best known for his comedy work on the Austin Powers movies and the first two Meet the Parents installments. Roach hasn’t abandoned his comedy roots yet, though Psychopath Test will allow the director to continue broadening his horizons, as he has in recent years with true story-inspired HBO political dramas/thrillers Recount and Game Change; even Roach’s last comical effort, the Will Farrell/Zach Galifianakis feature The Campaign, had a more distinct satirical bent to it.
Ronson’s source material, as it were, attained New York Times best-selling status, but has been decried for insufficiently-researched scientific qualities – and was rejected by The Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy (SSSP), citing shallow treatment of its personality disorder subject matter. It’s probably for the best, then, that the film adaptation will probably be closer to a standard genre movie than docudrama, similar to a previous adaptation of Ronson’s non-fiction literature: the military comedy/satire The Men Who Stare at Goats (starring George Clooney).
Johansson will be back on the big screen as Natasha Romanoff in Avengers: Age of Ultron later this year; she’ll reprise the role once again when Captain America: Civil War begins filming near the half-way point of 2015. The Johansson-headlined Ghost in the Shell live-action movie is expected to begin production either near the end of this year or around the first quarter of 2016 (to make a Spring 2017 release date), so the cameras might not start rolling on the Psychopath Test adaptation until 2016, at the earliest.
Psychpath Test could make for an interesting (fictional) psycho-drama and a showcase for Johansson’s acting; the kind that could even bring her awards season attention, as Game Change did for Julianne Moore’s (who portrayed Sarah Palin in that TV movie). Roach and Gore’s adaptation of Ronson’s work might ultimately not end up being any more scientifically accurate than, say, filmmaker Luc Besson’s sci-fi action/drama Lucy (starring Johansson) was last year, but it could still make for entertaining cinema.
We’ll keep you updated on development for The Psychopath Test as more information becomes available.