James Franco and Jonah Hill Show Off Serious Sides in ‘True Story’

James Franco and Jonah Hill may have teamed up for comedic purposes in the past, but both are showing off more serious sides in their next project, True Story. A new trailer for the forthcoming thriller has just been released, giving viewers their first look at Hill as a journalist whose identity has been stolen by a recently imprisoned murderer.

As the title implies, True Story is based on real-life events, as depicted in Michael Finkel’s 2005 memoir True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa. The movie stars Hill as Finkel, a disgraced reporter who was fired from The New York Times in 2001 for fabricating parts of a story he wrote on the African slave trade. Shortly after his dismissal, he learns that Christian Longo (played by Franco), a man accused of murdering his wife and three kids, used Finkel’s name as an alias while running from the police. When Finkel tries to figure out why Longo chose him, the two end up developing a complex and sometimes dangerous relationship.

The beginnings of this relationship are highlighted in the trailer, with Hill’s Finkel visiting Franco’s Longo in jail to ask him why he chose him as an alias. In the clip, Longo reveals that he is a longtime fan of the journalist’s work — and that he wants Finkel to tell his side of the story. Looking for a second chance, Finkel finds himself getting closer to Longo, putting himself in increasing peril and placing further strain on his relationship with his wife (played by Felicity Jones). Ethan Suplee (The Wolf of Wall Street), Gretchen Mol (Boardwalk Empire), and Robert John Burke (Law & Order: SVU) co-star.

True Story will mark the feature directorial debut of Rupert Goold, who recently wrote and directed a small-screen adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Richard II, entitled The Hollow Crown. Goold also co-wrote the screenplay for the movie alongside David Kajganich, who has helped pen the upcoming film adaptations of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary and IT.

Some moviegoers may find it odd seeing Hill and Franco work together in such a dramatic film, given their past projects together. The two co-starred in 2013’s comedy This is the End, and Franco also had a cameo in 2007’s Knocked Up, which featured Hill in a small supporting role. True Story will mark their first serious venture as co-stars, and though seeing them talk murder instead of swapping jokes takes a little getting used to, the two clearly work well together on screen.

While this is the first drama they’ve taken on as co-stars, the actors have each shown off their dramatic acting chops in previous projects. Hill nabbed Oscar nominations for his supporting roles in Moneyball and the Wolf of Wall Street. True Story will give him a chance to prove his ability to carry a drama as a lead. Meanwhile, Franco has made a name for himself as a jack-of-all-trades, albeit not an always successful one.

The actor, who earned an Oscar nomination for 127 Hours, may currently be making headlines for the now internationally controversial comedy The Interview, but he also has at least six more films lined up for 2015 — including several dramas like Queen of the Desert, Zeroville, and Everything Will Be Fine.

True Story will premiere at Sundance in January and is slated for limited release in April.

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