Saturday, May 18, 2024

Tessa Thompson to Star as Jewel Thief Doris Payne in Feature Film

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Tessa Thompson attends the premiere of Paramount Pictures' 'Annihilation' at Regency Village Theatre on February 13, 2018 in Westwood, California.
Tessa Thompson attends the premiere of Paramount Pictures’ ‘Annihilation’ at Regency Village Theatre on February 13, 2018 in Westwood, California.

*Tessa Thompson will step into the role of real life African American jewel thief Doris Payne, who gained notoriety for her luxury jewelry heists from stores around the world.

Thompson, whose credits include “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Creed,” and “Westworld,” will also produce the currently untitled film with Codeblack Films’ Jeff Clanagan. Codeblack is launching the project after having obtained Payne’s life rights, reports Variety.

Payne, now 87, has been in the heist business for six decades. Her method would usually involve her entering high-end stores and posing as a wealthy woman looking for a diamond ring. She would ask to see a tray of items, and through the gift of gab, cause the clerk to forget how many pieces were outside the cases, allowing her to leave with one or two.

The film is conceived as a high-concept action-drama in the vein of “Catch Me if You Can” and “The Thomas Crown Affair,” according to Variety. Codeblack Films’ Candice Wilson will oversee the project.

Over a span of six decades, Doris Payne has stolen some $2 million in jewels.

Payne has been arrested multiple times and has admitted to having used 20 aliases, 10 Social Security numbers, and nine dates of birth.

She was the subject of a 2013 documentary, “The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne,” where she described in detail many of her crimes, from the earliest thefts in her youth, up to her arrest in 2011 for stealing a diamond ring from a Macy’s department store. The trial for this crime was chronicled in the documentary, and her last interview in the film took place in prison.

Codeblack Films, which is part of Lionsgate, also has an Angela Davis biopic in active development. Its drama “Traffik” — starring Paula Patton, Omar Epps, Roselyn Sanchez, and Laz Alonso — opens April 27.

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