Hettie Macdonald, who co-directed the TV series of Sally Rooney's Normal People with Irish director Lenny Abrahamson, is bringing another bestseller to screens - a film adaptation of Rachel Joyce's The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

US entertainment trade website Deadline, which first reported the news, says that Oscar winner Jim Broadbent will play the lead role in the story of a quiet man who sets off on a 450-mile walk in the belief that it will save the life of his dying friend. 

"Rachel's beautiful story is made for cinema: a raw and emotional portrait of a man battling long-buried feelings of grief and guilt in a vast landscape," said Macdonald. 

Jim Broadbent

"I find Harold's journey across England and his belief that he can make a difference extraordinarily moving and inspiring. I am enormously excited to be working with Jim Broadbent, who I know will use his warmth, range and sensitivity to create an onscreen Harold who will lodge deep in the hearts of everyone who sees it."

"This story is a deeply personal one that has been with me for many years, and has resonated with readers, both young and old," said author Joyce.

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"Re-imagining it with Hettie has lifted it to a new level and I know she will make a film that will be beautiful, universal and truthful. It was a 'small' book that took the world by storm. We want the film to do the same."

It is hoped that filming will begin in the UK this summer.

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