Star-Studded Cast Set for Confusing JT LeRoy Biopic
Kristen Stewart, James Franco, Helena Bonham Carter in talks
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2016 1:01 PM CST
Actress Kristen Stewart poses at the premiere of "Certain Women" during the 2016 Sundance Film Festival on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in Park City, Utah.   (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)
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(Newser) – Kristen Stewart, James Franco, and Helena Bonham Carter are in talks to star in a biopic of JT LeRoy, "a woman who pretended to be a man who identifies as transgender, tricking the rich and famous in Hollywood, the fashion world, and elite literary circles," as the subject of the film is officially described in the Hollywood Reporter. But, as Drew McWeeny explains at HitFix, that's not exactly correct: LeRoy was "a literary phenomenon in the late '90s," a secretive young author who counted Bono and Billy Corgan among his fans, but who was actually a woman named Laura Albert. Albert's musician husband, Geoff Knoop, ultimately convinced his half-sister, Savannah Knoop, to pretend to be LeRoy in public appearances; she would wear cartoonishly obvious male disguises like sunglasses, hats, and wigs. Albert was always there, supposedly as LeRoy's manager.

The dupe carried on for about 10 years before it unraveled, per Vanity Fair. "Since much of LeRoy's work referenced his struggles with identity and gender, there was something sort of brilliant about having a woman play the part in public," McWeeny writes. Still, it's odd that the official description of the LeRoy biopic calls it "a Hollywood-set transgender story," since neither Laura Albert nor Savannah Knoop was actually transgender, McWeeny notes. Also interesting: The Reporter calls Savannah "Kroop," not "Knoop," and says she was the one "behind the complicated ruse," not Albert. Stewart would reportedly play Savannah, reports Vulture, which does have the last name as "Knoop" and says Savannah co-wrote the script; the Reporter says the movie is based on Savannah's memoir and life rights. Franco would play her half-brother Geoff, and Carter would play Laura Albert.