Can You Ever Forgive Me? trailer is out, and Melissa McCarthy charms as Lee Israel in the adaptation of the writer-turned-forger's memoir.
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
The film tells the story of Israel, who, finding herself broke and increasingly desperate, stumbles onto a scheme that involves her forging and selling letters allegedly from deceased writers like Noël Coward and Dorothy Parker. She even began stealing real letters from archives and libraries to replace them with her own versions.
Eventually, Israel pleaded guilty in 1993 and spent six months in house arrest.
The first Can You Ever Forgive Me? trailer offered a peek at the biopic with McCarthy as the late author who gets an opportunity to rake in some cash outside her chosen profession.
"Quite by accident, I find myself in a rather criminal position," she whispers conspiratorially to friend Jack, played by Richard E. Grant.
Eventually, her scheme unravels to a dramatic conclusion.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is the sophomore directorial effort by Marielle Heller, who also helmed The Diary of a Teenage Girl. The cast includes Hollywood veterans McCarthy, Grant, Jane Curtin, Jennifer Westfeldt, Anna Deavere Smith, and Dolly Wells.
Telling Israel's Story
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a unique story, a stranger-than-fiction tale that is truly made for theaters.
However, the film is also an attempt to capture a fair snapshot of the author's character. After all, often lost in the infamy of her criminal exploits are her impressive works as a writer who penned biographies of the likes of Tallulah Bankhead, Dorothy Kilgallen, and Estée Lauder.
Of course, director Heller points out that Israel's illegal activities is also key in understanding an important side to her character.
"This happens to be the only period of time in her life that she wrote about herself," Heller points out to EW. "The deeper I got into the research, the more I couldn't deny that she was incredibly artistic. There was artistry to what she was doing ... Her forgeries were so exquisite that they slipped through every possible test. It really was a skill beyond just a criminal activity. She was an incredible writer [doing] things nobody else has ever been able to do."
As Israel herself said in the memoir that was the inspiration for the McCarthy-led film, she is proud of her forgeries.
"I still consider the letters to be my best work," she wrote, according to New York Times.
Israel died of myeloma complications in 2015. She was 75.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is slated for release on Oct. 19.