Ron Howard is directing and producing a movie adaptation of Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance's best-selling 2016 memoir. The filmmaker will produce alongside Imagine Entertainment's chairman, Brian Grazer, and president, Erica Huggins. A writer has not been hired, Variety reports.
Vance's acclaimed book, which topped The New York Times Best Seller list in both August 2016 and January 2017, chronicles the daily challenges of living in the Rust Belt – from drug addiction to financial hardships.
Vance, a native of Middletown, Ohio, survived his rough upbringing partly due to his passion for education. After serving in Iraq with the Marine Corps, he attended and graduated from Ohio State University and Yale Law School. Propelled by the breakout success of his debut book, Vance has been dubbed "the Trump whisperer" for inadvertently giving voice to Donald Trump supporters from his home region during the 2016 presidential election. He recently joined CNN as a political contributor.
In a statement about the film, Imagine's Erica Huggins called Hillbilly Elegy "a powerful, true coming-of-age memoir" that "[illuminates] the plight of America’s white working class, speaking directly to the turmoil of our current political climate."