Amy Adams to star in Ron Howard’s film adaptation of ‘Hillbilly Elegy’

Amy Adams arrives for the 91st Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Feb. 24.
(Etienne Laurent / EPA-EFE/REX)

The highly anticipated film adaptation of J.D. Vance’s memoir “Hillbilly Elegy” has its first star: six-time Academy Award nominee Amy Adams.

The actress is the first announced cast member of the planned Netflix film, which will be directed by Ron Howard, Variety reported Thursday.

Screenwriter Vanessa Taylor, an Academy Award nominee for “The Shape of Water,” will write the adaptation.

Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” became a breakout bestseller shortly after its release in 2016. The memoir tells the story of Vance’s family in Middletown, Ohio, and their struggles with poverty, alcoholism and abuse.

The book was a No. 1 New York Times bestseller, and received mixed reviews from critics. It proved popular among conservative writers and was met with skepticism from liberal critics.


Reviewing the book for The Times, Jeffrey Fleishman wrote, " ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ is a white man’s take on a culture that is at once stereotyped and mythologized. If read alongside Ta-Nehisi Coates’ ‘Between the World and Me,’ a black father’s profound meditation on the racism that may engulf his son, the two would present portraits of the most bitter and volatile forces at play in America today.”

Howard’s Imagine Entertainment won the film rights to the book in an auction in 2017, and Netflix picked up the movie in a reported $45 million deal earlier this year.

Amy Adams has frequently won critical acclaim for her roles in films based on books. She appeared in the 2016 film “Nocturnal Animals,” based on Austin Wright’s 1993 novel “Tony and Susan,” and in the 2012 film adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.”

She plays a lead role in the upcoming film “The Woman in the Window,” based on the thriller novel by controversial author A.J. Finn. That movie is set for release in October.

“Hillbilly Elegy” will be the first film from Howard since last year’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”