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Big Hollywood Names Set to Star in Film of Tom Bailey Novel

Published on October 18, 2012

Emmy Award–winning actor Bryan Cranston has been cast to play the lead role of Gary Hazen in the screen adaptation of “The Grace That Keeps This World,” the 2005 novel by Susquehanna University English and Creative Writing Professor Tom Bailey. The movie will be directed by Azazel Jacobs from a screenplay adapted by Matthew Aldrich.

Bailey optioned the film rights in 2007, and casting was first announced in October 2012 when legendary actress Glenn Close, Golden Globe winner James Franco, and critically acclaimed performer Brit Marling all signed on to the film. The A-list cast was rounded out with the recent addition of Cranston, who is best known for portraying Walter White in the wildly popular AMC crime drama series “Breaking Bad” (2008–2013), and Hal in the Fox comedy series “Malcolm in the Middle” (2000–2006).

Bailey’s novel tells the story of long-married couple Gary and Susan Hazen and their two adult sons, whose life in the remote Adirondacks is shifting against troubling currents. The younger Hazen son is drawn toward the wider world beyond his hometown, while the older son harbors a secret he fears will disappoint his father. As the family prepares for a hunting trip, with a zealous enforcement officer looking into violations, tensions build toward a dramatic end.

Publisher’s Weekly said, “This accomplished, moving first novel (after Bailey's collection ‘Crow Man’) is about fathers and sons, tough love and compassion, the bonds of community and the solace of belief….This novel has the validity of deeply felt truths and characters who are bound and motivated by a love that arches the chasm of divergent ambitions and desires.”

Aldrich is best known for his screenplay “Father Daughter Time: A Tale of Armed Robbery and Eskimo Kisses,” for which Matt Damon, who plans to direct and star, won a bidding war. Director Jacobs is familiar to fans of the critically acclaimed film “Terri,” a touching comedy about the struggles of a large 15-year-old boy in a small town that was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Bailey’s second novel, “Cotton Song,” was published in 2006. He is also the author of two books from Oxford University Press, “A Short Story Writer's Companion” (2001) and “On Writing Short Stories” (2000). Widely published in literary journals and magazines, including DoubleTake, his fiction has been reprinted in such anthologies as The Pushcart Prizes and New Stories From the South and cited in The Best American Short Stories. He is the recipient of a Newhouse Award from the John Gardner Foundation and was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in fiction. “The Grace That Keeps This World” earned him the 2006 Mississippi Arts and Letters Fiction Prize.

Although no release date has been set, Bailey says he’s a patient man, one who is happy to leave Hollywood to filmmakers. “I'm content to see how it works out. Lots of really smart, talented people are going at this. This isn’t my book, this is a movie—two very different animals.”

Even so, he hopes to visit the set once filming is underway. “Matt [Aldrich] and I have become friends,” he said. “And my kids can’t wait to be extras!”

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