By Susan Johnes
Posted July 27th 2018
TESSA THOMPSON AND DORIS PAYNE
Tessa Thompson is bringing an exciting new story to the big screen. She has signed on to produce and star in a film about a notorious jewel thief, Doris Payne is a well-known woman for her luxury jewelry heists from stores around the world.
Thompson, whose credits include “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Creed,” and “West world,” will also produce the currently untitled film with Codeblack Films’ Jeff Clanagan. Codeblack is launching the project after having obtained Payne’s life rights.
In her six-decade-long career, Payne, 87, would enter jewelry stores posing as an innocent woman looking for a diamond ring. She would ask to see an assortment of items before using her charm to cause the clerk to forget how many pieces were outside the cases and leave with one or two pieces.
Thompson announced the project on Twitter. “After chasing Doris and her story for years— and then keeping this secret for a while…this dream is coming true,” she wrote. “Payne is a fascinating woman…and I’m so pleased to bring this story to the screen with Codeblack & Lionsgate.”
Doris Payne’s life was also the subject of the 2013 documentary “The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne,” where the film traced Payne’s trajectory from her rural hometown of Slab Fork, West Virginia to her many heists around the world.
According to Variety, Payne’s criminal record dates back to the 1950s. She was arrested multiple times and has admitted to having used 20 aliases, 10 Social Security numbers, and nine dates of birth.
In the 1970s, Payne was nabbed in Nice, France after stealing a 10-carat diamond ring worth $500,000 in Monte Carlo, and in the 1980s she was arrested after escaping federal custody during a hospital visit.
Last year Payne was again arrested at an Atlanta-area Walmart after she attempted to walk out with $90 of merchandise. The incident surprised authorities because all while, she was wearing an electronic monitoring device from a previous arrest.
But the fictional telling of Payne’s story was in development for nearly a decade ago. Halle Berry was scheduled to star in a film about Payne’s life, but the project seemingly stalled.
Meanwhile, Codeblack Films will produce Thompson’s film which—will reportedly be a “high-concept action-drama drama” reminiscent of Catch Me If You Can.