Cara Delevingne and Shailene Woodley to play lovers in ‘murderous’ Patricia Highsmith biopic

Patricia Highsmith (L) will be portrayed by Shailene Woodley (R) in biopic.

Shailene Woodley will portray renowned Ripley author Patricia Highsmith in a new “murderous” biopic, with Cara Delevingne and Noémi Merlant as her doomed lovers.

The prolific author, best known for her 1955 psychological thriller, The Talented Mr Ripley, lived a scandal-ridden life as juicy as the fictional worlds she created.

It is finally being brought to life with performances from Big Little Lies star Woodley, Carnival Row‘s Delevingne and Merlant, seen recently in Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Tár. All are revered by the LGBTQ+ community in their own right.

The subversive biopic, The Murderous Mrs Highsmith, will reimagine the author’s life in the style of a horror, focusing on the period just before she wrote Ripley.

The film will be produced by Killer Films, the same company that successfully adapted Highsmith’s 1952 semi-autobiographical lesbian novel The Price of Salt into the Oscar-nominated 2015 film Carol, which starred Cate Blanchett. So, needless to say, it is in safe hands.

Directed by Alexandra Pechman in her debut feature, the film will offer a deep-dive into the psyche of the author, whose fascination with the more gruesome aspects of death and own turbulent love life coloured her work and public persona.

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Noemi Merlant (L) and Cara Delevingne will play her lovers.
Noémi Merlant and Cara Delevingne will play Highsmith’s lovers. (Getty)

A statement by Paris-based company Memento, which has launched sales on the film, said: “This is such a unique way to explore someone’s legacy, while implementing their world into their life story.

“The script goes from idyllic Italian settings to gruesome murder fantasies with a strong inspiration from her work. This is a new take to the biopic genre that will definitely leave a mark on the audience.”

Cara Delevingne and Noémi Merlant set to play Patricia Highsmith’s real-life lovers in film

Although Delevingne and Merlant’s characters have not yet been given names, there is an historic understanding of the two women who influenced Highsmith in this formative period of her life: British physician Kathryn Hamill Cohen and sociologist Ellen Blumenthal Hill.

Highsmith started an affair with Kathryn at the end of the 1940s when the two spent three weeks together travelling around Italy. It also led to Highsmith meeting Kathryn’s husband, Dennis Cohen, the founder of Cresset Press who went on to publish the author’s Strangers on a TrainThe Blunderer and The Talented Mr Ripley.

In the early 1950s, Highsmith fell for Ellen after they met in Munich. However, after a turbulent three years, the author broke off the relationship, leaving Hill distraught and suicidal.

It is not the first time the novelist has come under the spotlight this year. In April, Swiss film-maker Eva Vitija’s documentary Loving Highsmith premiered in UK cinemas.

Filming for The Murderous Mrs Highsmith begins in the autumn.

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