Fox 2000 and Pacific Standard’s Reese Witherspoon, Bruna Papandrea and Natalie Krinsky have closed a deal to adapt Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s upcoming book Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of A Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield.
The film will tell the story of a pilot program that let elite women soldiers enter the battlefields of Afghanistan with Green Berets and Army Rangers in 2010. The unit, titled CST-2, was made up of carefully selected Army women, including First Lieutenant Ashley White, who became the first CST member killed in action. Lemmon’s book centered on how White and her platoon mates bonded during their time together.
The sale of Ashley’s War follows the high-profile purchase last week by Warner Bros. of war photographer Lynsey Addario’s memoir It’s What I Do, for director Steven Spielberg and actress Jennifer Lawrence. After the unexpectedly gargantuan success of American Sniper, studios are banking on a steady appetite for biopics about wartime heroes. Fox 2000 reportedly beat out Sony and Universal to secure the rights to this story.
Witherspoon, who also chased It’s What I Do, will likely leave the job of playing White to a younger actress, given that she died at the age of 24. For her part, Witherspoon is coming off an Oscar nomination for playing another strong-willed woman in Wild and also had David Fincher thriller Gone Girl in the awards race last year. Expect the actress to show similar diligence in bringing Ashley’s War to the big screen and maneuvering it for awards consideration.
Here’s the official synopsis:
From the author of the New York Times bestseller The Dressmaker of Khair Khana comes the poignant and gripping story of a groundbreaking team of female American warriors who served alongside Special Operations soldiers on the battlefield in Afghanistan—including Ashley White, a beloved soldier who died serving her country’s cause.
In 2010, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command created Cultural Support Teams, a pilot program to put women on the battlefield alongside Green Berets and Army Rangers on sensitive missions in Afghanistan. The idea was that women could access places and people that had remained out of reach, and could build relationships—woman to woman—in ways that male soldiers in a conservative, traditional country could not. Though officially banned from combat, female soldiers could be “attached” to different teams, and for the first time, women throughout the Army heard the call to try out for this special ops program.
In Ashley’s War, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon uses exhaustive firsthand reporting and a finely tuned understanding of the complexities of war to tell the story of CST-2, a unit of women hand-picked from across the Army, and the remarkable hero at its heart: 1st Lt. Ashley White, who would become the first Cultural Support Team member killed in action and the first CST remembered on the Army Special Operations Memorial Wall of Honor alongside the Army Rangers with whom she served.
Transporting readers into this little-known world of fierce women bound together by valor, danger, and the desire to serve, Ashley’s War is a riveting combat narrative and a testament to the unbreakable bonds born of war.