Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern are getting in on our obsession with scammers with their new film J.T. LeRoy.
This wild, based-on-real-events tale makes alleged SoHo grifter Anna Delvey's story seem relatively tame. In the movie, Stewart plays Savannah Knoop, a young woman who is thrown into a world of deception and chaos when she agrees to pose as young "author" J.T. LeRoy. In reality, LeRoy doesn't exist — the character is the literary alter-ego of Savannah's sister-in-law, Laura Albert (Laura Dern). The problem is that no one actually knows Albert is behind the persona, or that LeRoy — an abuse survivor — is a work of total fiction.
Laura, whose work has received acclaim partially because of its autobiographical style, uses Savannah as a stand-in for LeRoy. At first, things work out, and LeRoy/Savannah enjoys playing the part during press tours and at meetings. It's only when the world starts to put the pieces of LeRoy's lies together, does everything start to crumble.
The movie was co-written by the real Savannah Knoop, and is based on her memoir Girl Boy Girl: How I Became JT Leroy. According to BuzzFeed, Diane Kruger plays a fictionalized version of Asia Argento, who directed, co-wrote, and starred in an adaptation of LeRoy's short story collection The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things. In the film, Argento is called "Eva Avelin" and she strikes up a relationship with Savannah, believing her to be LeRoy.
This isn't the first time the story of the fictional writer has been told. A documentary titled Author: The J.T. LeRoy Story debuted in 2016, much to the anger of Argento and others who learned via the documentary that conversations with Knoop and Albert were recorded allegedly without their knowledge.
Check out the trailer for J.T. LeRoy below:
J.T. LeRoy hits theaters April 26.