Berlin: Natalie Portman Joins Jessica Chastain in 'The Death and Life of John F. Donovan'

THR Natalie Portman - H 2015
Miller Mobley

THR Natalie Portman - H 2015

Nicholas Hoult and Thandie Newton have also joined the cast of Xavier Dolan's first English-language film, which stars Chastain as a villainous gossip columnist.

Mommy writer-director Xavier Dolan's first English-language film, The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, has added another major star to its cast: Natalie Portman.

Nicholas Hoult and Thandie Newton have also joined the film, which stars Kit Harington as an American TV star in his late 20s and his correspondence with a young actor-to-be living with his mother in England. Their lives take a dramatic turn when the existence of their pen-pal relationship is publicly exposed by a gossip columnist. A decade later, the younger actor revisits the events over the course of an interview.

Seville International is shopping John F. Donovan to foreign buyers at the Berlin Film Festival's European Film Market, which gets underway this week. Chastain and Harington have been attached to the high-profile project for more than a year. Other actors set to star in the indie film include Kathy Bates and Susan Sarandon. CAA packaged the project and is repping domestic rights.

Dolan has been a favorite on the festival circuit ever since his first feature, I Killed My Mother — made when the actor-turned-filmmaker was only 19 years old — took top honors in the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes in 2009. But it was Dolan’s fifth feature, 2014's Mommy, that was his first film to break through to a wider audience.

Portman is repped by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment; Newton is with WME and Untitled Entertainment; and Hoult is repped by UTA.