The New York Post is reporting that James Franco will make his directing debut, and star as the satanic serial killer Richard Ramirez, in a new feature film based on the late Philip Carlo’s true-crime novel ‘The Night Stalker’. It’s written for the screen by Nicolas Constantine and co-produced by Soundgarden’s front-man Chris Cornell. Shooting starts this summer when Franco, currently studying for his PhD, will be on a break from Yale.
Ramirez (a death row inmate at San Quentin) went on a rampage of sexual assault and murder through Southern California for two years before being captured in 1985. His trial was one of the most difficult and longest criminal trials in American history and the case, including the hunt and his eventual capture, have inspired many films and TV shows over the years.
While speaking about the film, Constantine said the following:
“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.
“This isn’t a horror film, nor does it glorify Ramirez in any way,” Constantine said. “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.”