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Author John Grisham wants Matthew McConaughey to star in a ‘A Time for Mercy’ film adaptation

  | USA TODAY

John Grisham’s next legal thriller, “A Time for Mercy” comes out next month, but the author is already looking ahead at a possible film adaptation.

He revealed he’d love it if Matthew McConaughey were to star as lawyer Jake Brigance (again) in a film adaptation to the “sort of” sequel to the 1996 adaptation of Grisham’s “A Time to Kill.”

Grisham, who writes between one and two books each year, spoke to virtual attendees at the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival Saturday which featured his novels “The Guardians” and “Camino Winds.” By way of a live streamed Q&A he touched on a range of subjects including film adaptation.

“I owe a lot to Matthew because he was an unknown actor in 1995 when he was picked to play Jake,” Grisham said. “He did such a wonderful job it made his career. He’s said that many times and we haven’t talked about ‘A Time for Mercy’ yet.”

“I know he has read the book and he probably will be approached to do the movie,” Grisham added, later detailing that he’d love for every one of his books to be adapted to film.

“It’s up to Matthew, if Matthew wants to do it, the movie will be made,” he continued. “I would love for Matthew to play Jake again.”

Jake’s character, Grisham explained during the Q&A, is “very autobiographical.” 

When he started writing “A Time to Kill” in 1985, Grisham was 30 years old and living in a town and court room similar to what was depicted in the book. 

“I was that small town lawyer in Mississippi, struggling, dreaming of the big trial, the big court room drama, that’s what I wanted,” he said. “I put a lot of myself into Jake, it was very autobiographical.”

While he is fostering hopes that McConaughey would take Jake’s character on again in the future, he would understand if McConaughey, who has a book coming out himself, wanted to pass on that opportunity. “A lot of actors, once they play a role, they want to move on.” 

At the end of the day though, Grisham doesn’t like to get too involved in film adaptations – he doesn’t want to get in the way of the process.

During the Q&A, he also touched on his writing process, literacy and wrongful conviction — an issue which the 15-year board member of the Innocence Project, is continuously working to correct.

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