Jon Ronson’s 2004 book The Men Who Stare At Goats was a weird choice for big-screen adaptation. A fascinating piece of journalism about the strange, mystical paths the U.S. military went down in the aftermath of Vietnam—and the way that research eventually evolved into modern-day PSYOPS—nothing about it screamed “Let’s turn this into a movie!” But someone did, and the fictionalized film version of Ronson’s book earned back more than twice its budget. So it’s somewhat less weird that Hollywood is taking another shot at adapting Ronson, with Deadline reporting that Scarlett Johansson has been attached to star in a film based on the author’s 2011 book The Psychopath Test.
Subtitled A Journey Through The Madness Industry, Ronson’s book is an examination of the concept of psychopathy, and how it’s been defined, redefined, and profited from by media and medicine alike. The book’s most prominent narrative, which Ronson earlier publicized in a 2009 This American Life story, is that of Tony, a young man who purportedly faked his way into a psychopath diagnosis to avoid a jail sentence and has spent more than a decade committed in England’s Broadmoor Psychiatric Hospital.
The film is being developed by Universal, with Austin Powers director Jay Roach set to direct. He’ll be working from a script by Futurama and Saturday Night Live writer Kristin Gore, who we’re legally required to note was once little more than a gleam in the lusty eye of her father, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Given Roach and Gore’s former credentials (the two are also working together on a space exploration comedy for HBO), it’s probably safe to assume that The Psychopath Test will focus on the lighter, wittier aspects of Ronson’s book, and not so much the “trapped for a decade with violent mental patients” part.