Matt Damon to Star as Bill Clinton-Pardoned Fugitive Marc Rich in Universal Drama

BERLIN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 08: Matt Damon appears on stage at 'The Monuments Men' premiere during 64th Berlinale International Film Festival at Berlinale Palast on February 8, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
Ian Gavan/Getty Images

Hollywood is gearing up to give Marc Rich, the accused fraudster who spent nearly 18 years as a fugitive from justice until President Bill Clinton pardoned him hours before he left office, a glamorous biopic treatment starring Matt Damon.

Deadline Hollywood reports that Damon is in early talks with Universal Pictures to portray Rich in The King of Oil, a forthcoming drama named for the multi-millionaire moniker Rich gained trading commodities futures in the Middle East and other dangerous locales. The Office star and budding Hollywood jack-of-all-trades playmaker John Krasinski is slated to produce through his Sunday Night Productions company.

Rich, who was always known to play fast and loose with the law, was indicted for multiple felonies in 1983 by a grand jury impaneled under then-U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani following his illegal dealings with the Iranian regime. Rich fled the United States and never returned, leading American law enforcement agencies on the hunt for the more than 17 years.

Rich’s trouble with the law came to an abrupt end in 2001 when President Clinton, who had taken hundreds of thousands of donations from Rich’s ex-wife, gave him a full pardon. The fallout from this pardon proved grew to be one of the darkest and enduring clouds on the Clinton administration — bleeding into future Attorney General Eric Holder, who drafted the Rich pardon’s rationale.

Damon, like the man he is slated to play, is also a prominent supporter of the Clintons.

The source material for the film derives from The King of Oil: The Secret Lives of Marc Rich, which was published in 2009 to capitalize on the buzz around the Rich pardon following President Barack Obama’s selection of Holder as his AG.

Deadline speculates that Krasinski, who first tried his hand behind the camera with Brief Interviews with Hideous Men while starring in The Office, may direct The King of Oil. He recently proved his bankability in the director’s chair with his breakout horror hit A Quiet Place.

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