Almost the moment the West Memphis 3 were released from prison, it was revealed Atom Egoyan was working on a movie about the case, which many believe was a major miscarriage of justice. Now Deadline reports that Colin Firth has joined Reese Witherspoon in the movie, which is titled Devil’s Knot.
The actor will play Ron Lax, a private investigator who was the first pro bono supporter of the defendants when they headed to trial in 1993. Lax built one of the most prominent private investigative firms in the Southeast, and offered his services for free to the defendants, who at the time were reviled because many truly believed they had killed small children, amid sensationalised reports about devil worship and ritualistic sacrifice.
Against that backdrop, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley were convicted, despite there not being a shred of physical evidence against them, and the fact the reports of devil worship were completely unfounded. Lax helped find the DNA in the knots that bound one of the victims, which cast suspicion on Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of Steven Branch, one of the 8-year old murder victims.
Reese Witherspoon will play Pam Hobbs, the mother of Branch. She initially believed the trio murdered her son, but was eventually persuaded that the three suspects were innocent and wrongly accused.
The script is based on investigative reporter Mara Leveritt’s 2003 book Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three. The book is an in-depth chronicle of the trials that sent the three to prison for the murder of the three boys who were found hog-tied in a drainage ditch. The project is set to start filming this summer in Louisiana.