James Franco will play the serial killer Richard Ramirez and direct the movie version of true-crime author Philip Carlo’s ‘The Night Stalker.’ This project will begin this summer while James is on break from his Ph.D. studies at Yale University. The Golden Globe winning actor – who won for his role playing the title character in ‘James Dean,‘ always took his education seriously and James is currently studying for his doctorate in English at Yale.
In 1985, Ramirez went on a rampage of rape and murder, entering homes in the dead of night and generating fear throughout Southern California. He was later found guilty of 13 counts of murder, five attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults, 14 burglaries and sentenced to death for his crimes. The strikingly handsome Ramirez somewhat surprisingly attracted a horde of groupies who attended his trail, visit him in jail, send him money, letters, gifts, and marriage proposals – all while he remains on death row in San Quentin!
The film is based on the book ‘The Night Stalker’ by the author Philip Carlo who passed away last year from ALS also known as Lou Gerhig’s Disease. Carlo wrote several best sellers all based on the true lives of famous murderers who he spent time interviewing. His work provides a detailed look inside the minds of the killers and provides a balanced view of their own perspectives of their crimes. His works include ‘The Ice Man’ which covers the life of mass murder and hitman Richard Kuklinski, ‘The Butcher: Anatomy Of A Mafia Psychopath’ which tells the story of Tommy Pitera, and ‘Gaspipe’ the story of mafia underboss Anthony Casso who was Carlo’s neighbor and family’s close friend when Carlo was growing up
The film is being co-produced by Soundgarden lead singer Chris Cornell and Nicholas Constantine, writer of the screenplay – the film will retain the same title as the book ‘The Night Stalker.’
Nicholas said, ‘Phil Carlo painted such an amazing portrait of Richard Ramirez, the human being, and it’s that which drew us all to the project. Sure, Ramirez was a monster but Phil investigated how he became that monster, and that’s what this film is about.’
Nicholas added ‘This isn’t a horror film, nor does it glorify Ramirez in any way -James Franco shares that vision, and we all agree that he is absolutely the one actor, and now director, who can truly do this very intense role and story justice. I had no idea if he would do it, though, since it’s pretty dark subject matter. They told me he was studying to be a director and this was perfect for him. We watched three short films he made, two of which were dark and one of which was about a serial killer. That confirmed James definitely had this dark side, and it definitely sealed the deal for us. Sure enough, James read the material and responded to it immediately.’
I’ve read Carlo’s vivid portrayals of these very dangerous and different men – if the film is even one half as good as his books it is bound to be a big hit.