Young actor Ansel Elgort is quickly turning around his image from Shailene Woodley’s sweet co-star in movies like The Fault in Our Stars and the Divergent franchise to a serious actor with a penchant for edgy roles. His most recently announced project will be his edgiest yet, as Deadline reports the actor is lined up to star in a film adaptation of the Rolling Stone article “The Dukes of Oxy,” which will see him playing a young drug kingpin. Oscar-nominated producer Michael de Luca (Captain Phillips, The Social Network) is putting together the project for New Line Cinema.
The article, published in the April 23 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, tells the story of Doug Dodd, a kid from Florida who had a multimillion-dollar business dealing highly addictive pain pills before he was out of his teens. He and his partner and best friend Lance “Little General” Barabas teamed up to ship the pills around the country, even to Alaska, after getting them cheaply and easily at Florida’s many “pill mills.” By 2008 they had sold an average of 20,000 OxyContin and Roxycodone pills a month, shipping them in vitamin bottles and receiving teddy bears stuffed with cash in return. They were both eventually arrested when the DEA began cracking down on the rampant prescription opioid problem that still ravages rural, white America.
This movie will be similar to other gangster drugpin films like Goodfellas, Scarface, or even The Wolf of Wall Street. Rolling Stone journalist Guy Lawson compares Dodd to Leonardo DiCaprio’s protagonist in The Wolf of Wall Street at one point in the article. The thing that makes this story unique is how young the men running this drug ring were when they reached such massive levels of success and when they were felled by their own hubris and addiction to their product.
Elgort is being looked at to play Dodd, who the main subject of the article, as he approached Lawson from prison looking to tell his story. Dodd was the more cautious member of the gang. He put rules in place for himself and Barabas to follow so they wouldn’t get caught, but Barabas, intent on living like a character out of Scarface, quickly broke every one of them and made the mistakes that brought the pair to the attention of the DEA.
This isn’t the only image-changer on the plate for Elgort. The actor is also going to star in Edgar Wright’s upcoming crime drama Baby Driver. In that movie, Elgort will play a talented young getaway driver who uses a specific playlist to help him pull off incredible getaways. The character ends up being forced to work for a crime boss who strong-arms him into doing a dangerous drive that threatens all aspects of his life. Emma Stone and Michael Douglas are rumored to be eyeing roles in the movie, which is Wright’s first project since dropping out of Marvel’s Ant-Man.
Playing criminals could be a surefire way for Elgort to transition his image from baby-faced young actor in young adult movies to more mature roles. Gangsters are always a favorite of both moviegoers and awards season voters, and the Rolling Stone article uncovered a compelling true story that will likely make a gritty, dark feature for Elgort to shine in.
Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS