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Ron Howard Is Giving 'Hillbilly Elegy' the Hollywood Treatment

The Oscar-winning director is adapting J.D. Vance's best-selling memoir about white, working-class America into a feature film.

by Drew Schwartz
11 April 2017, 7:15am

Photo via Flickr user David Shankbone

This article was originally published by VICE US.

Before Donald Trump nabbed the Rust Belt vote to go on to win the election, writer J.D. Vance wrote about his experience growing up among the underrepresented white, working-class people living in Ohio and Kentucky in his reported memoir, Hillbilly Elegy. Since August, the book has ridden high on the New York Times's best-seller list and now—like so many works that nab that honor—it's getting the Hollywood treatment.

Ron Howard has signed on to direct and produce the adaptation of Vance's memoir, Deadline reports. Howard, who won an Oscar for directing A Beautiful Mind, has played the adaptation game before. He directed 2016's Inferno, the third film installment of Dan Brown's book series starring Tom Hanks, and Frost / Nixon, a Peter Morgan play, in 2009. The film will also be produced by Imagine Entertainment, which nabbed the rights to the book.

It's not clear who will write the screenplay for the adaptation, or what role Vance might play in bringing his memoir to the big screen. In the book, Vance blends a painfully honest look at his family history—rife with drug use and abuse, abandonment and poverty—with an almost scientific examination of why Americans stereotyped as "white trash" aren't escaping their circumstances. Vance, a conservative who graduated from Yale Law, was lauded by the New York Times and the National Review, among others, for his work.

"Hillbilly Elegy is a powerful, true coming-of-age memoir," Imagine's president, Erica Huggins, said in a statement. "Through the lens of a colorful, chaotic family, and with remarkable compassion and self-awareness, J.D. has been able to look back on his own upbringing as a 'hillbilly' to illuminate the plight of America's white working class, speaking directly to the turmoil of our current political climate."

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