Penelope Cruz to Star in, Produce Drama ‘Layover’ Based on Lisa Zeidner’s Book

Toni Kalem is writing and directing the road movie for Animus Films, Serena Films and Fortitude International

Penelope Cruz

Oscar winner Penelope Cruz is set to star in the drama “Layover” from writer-director Toni Kalem (“The Sopranos”), it was announced Thursday by producers Jim Young (“Lovelace”) of Animus Films and Tatiana Kelly (“The Words”) of Serena Films.

Cruz will also produce the film alongside Young and Kelly, while Fortitude International’s Nadine de Barros (“Drunk Parents”) and Robert Ogden Barnum (“Elvis & Nixon”) will serve as executive producers. In addition to financing “Layover,” Fortitude International is handling foreign sales and will present the project to buyers in Cannes.

Based on the novel of the same name by best-selling author Lisa Zeidner, “Layover” follows Claire Newbold, a successful traveling saleswoman who decides to go on the lam from her life. A master of reinvention, Claire develops elaborate scams for sneaking into hotel rooms, alone or with a guest, and a passion for swimming in their pools. A road movie of sorts, “Layover” follows this inventive and atypical heroine who goes off the deep end and has to find her way back to shore.

“Toni Kalem’s beautifully layered adaptation of Lisa Zeidner’s acclaimed book is a provocative blend of humor and heartbreak. With the addition of the incomparable Penelope Cruz to our team, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase such strong female talent both in front of and behind the camera,” said Kelly.

“We are looking forward to working with the outstanding Penelope Cruz on this film both on screen and behind the scenes,” added de Barros. “Toni is the perfect match to direct this project and bring a strong woman’s perspective to this personal and enthralling story of escape and self-discovery.”

Best known as an actress, Kalem played Angie Bonpensiero on HBO hit series “The Sopranos” and Private Gianelli in “Private Benjamin.” She wrote and directed “A Slipping-Down Life” after optioning Anne Tyler’s novel, and the film (starring Guy Pearce, Lili Taylor and John Hawkes) was an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. It went on to screen at numerous festivals worldwide before being released in theaters by Lionsgate.


Kalem recently acquired the film rights to Tyler’s best-selling novel “A Spool of Blue Thread,” which was Shortlisted for the Mann Booker Prize. She’s represented by WME and Surpin & Mayersohn.

Cruz, who won an Oscar for her supporting performance in Woody Allen‘s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” recently appeared in “The Brothers Grimsby” and “Zoolander 2.” She’s repped by CAA and Untitled Entertainment.