Ron Howard Set to Direct Hillbilly Elegy

Posted 2017/04/11 0 0

Ron Howard will direct and produce the contemporary economic drama “Hillbilly Elegy,” based on J.D. Vance’s bestselling memoir.


The Academy Award-winning filmmaker will be working in collaboration with fellow Imagine Entertainment partners, co-founder Brian Grazer and president Erica Huggins, though a writer has not yet been decided, Variety reported.

“Hillbilly Elegy is a powerful, true coming-of-age memoir by JD Vance,” Huggins said of the story. “Through the lens of a colourful, chaotic family, and with remarkable compassion and self-awareness, JD has been able to look back on his own upbringing as a ‘hillbilly’ to illuminate the plight of America’s white working class, speaking directly to the turmoil of our current political climate.”

Vance, a native of Middletown, Ohio, survived his rough upbringing partly due to his passion for education. After serving in Iraq with the Marine Corps, he attended and graduated from Ohio State University and Yale Law School. Propelled by the breakout success of his debut book, Vance has been dubbed "the Trump whisperer" for inadvertently giving voice to Donald Trump supporters from his home region during the 2016 presidential election. He recently joined CNN as a political contributor.

“I don’t know what the answer is, precisely, but I know it starts when we stop blaming Obama or Bush or faceless companies and ask ourselves what we can do to make things better,” Vance wrote. “We hillbillies need to wake the hell up.”

The memoir, which has been on the New York Times bestseller list for 36 weeks, chronicles the financial struggles, social hardships and drug addiction that Vance and his family endured in the city of Middletown, OH, and the Appalachian town of Jackson, KY, where his ancestors were from. Although the memoir was specific to Vance, it was embraced as a personification of the everyday struggles of America’s white underclass, and it shone a light on issues including race and privilege in America.

Ron Howard originally rose to fame in the 70s for his role as Richie Cunningham in US sitcom Happy Days, after which he turned to directing. Howard most recently directed the documentary “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week” and Tom Hanks’ “Inferno.” He won at the 2002 Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director with A Beautiful Mind, which won two further Oscars that year. The director is also considering a Zelda Fitzgerald biopic starring Jennifer Lawrence.