Sarandon, Dreyfuss pick up 'Leaves'

Ed Norton stars in Tim Blake Nelson's comedic thriller

Susan Sarandon and Richard Dreyfuss have signed on to join Ed Norton in "Leaves of Grass," a comedic thriller actor-turned-filmmaker Tim Blake Nelson wrote and is directing.

Nu Image/Millennium Film has come aboard to produce and finance the picture, which also sees Keri Russell in negotiations to hop on board as well.

The announcement was made at an informal press conference during the Toronto Film Festival attended by Norton, Nelson, Lerner, Davidson and Dubin.

Norton is portraying twin brothers, one an Ivy League philosophy professor, the other a small-time and brilliant marijuana grower. The professor is lured back to his Oklahoma hometown for a doomed scheme against a local drug lord (Dreyfuss) that unravels his life.

Sarandon plays the brothers' eccentric mother, while Russell will play a love interest.

Nelson is playing a best friend to one of the brothers. Lucy DeVito, the daughter of Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, and country singer Steve Earle are also in the cast.

Norton and Nelson are producing with John Langley, Elie Cohn, Kristina Dubin and Bill Migliore. Exec producing are Danny Dimbort, Avi Lerner, Trevor Short, Boaz Davidson, Stuart Blumberg and Eric Gitter.

Shooting is scheduled to being Sept. 22 in Shreveport, La. The budget will be between $9.5 million and $14 million.

Nelson wrote "Grass" with Norton in mind and showed it early last year to the actor, who wasn't looking for a new project and put off reading the script. When Norton finally did read it, he was hooked.

"I called him and said, 'You're right. It's great,' " recalled Norton. "There have been only a couple of times in my career that I've gone, 'That's exactly what I want to do.' It felt very complete."

Norton then went on a quest for financing with his Class 5 Films partner, and initially found it in Barbarian Films. When that fell through, the project landed on Lerner's doorsteps.

Nelson worked with Lerner on "The Grey Zone," which he described as a movie "that shouldn't have been financed." Lerner quickly countered the film was "the best I've ever made."