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Melissa McCarthy to Star as Real-Life Forger Lee Israel in ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’

”The Diary of a Teenage Girl“ director Marielle Heller will direct project

Melissa McCarthy has been cast to star in Fox Searchlight’s fact-based dark comedy “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” TheWrap has learned.

“The Diary of a Teenage Girl” director Marielle Heller will direct the movie, which is based on Lee Israel’s 2008 memoir about forging letters from deceased writers and celebrities to make ends meet. Production is set to begin shooting early next year.

Julianne Moore had previously been attached to the project, with Nicole Holofcener writing and directing, but those plans fell through last year.

Holofcener is still credited as the screenwriter, while Anne Carey and Amy Nauiokas of Archer Gray are producing alongside David Yarnell. Jawal Nga is executive producing.

The movie follows Israel, who made her living in the 1970s and 1980s writing profiles of stars like Katharine Hepburn and Estee Lauder. When her career began to fall apart, she devised a plan to forge letters from deceased writers and actors and sell them to collectors. When her forgeries started to raise suspicion, she started stealing actual letters from archives and sold them.

In 1993, she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport stolen property and served six months under house arrest. She died in 2014.

McCarthy most recently starred in “The Boss,” directed by her husband Ben Falcone.

She will next star in Sony’s “Ghostbusters” reboot, set for a July 15 release date.