Code Entertainment has hired Jonathan Hensleigh to direct the true-life crime story The Irishman starring Ray Stevenson, which Lightning Entertainment will introduce to buyers in Cannes next week. ICM and Jonathan Dana represent North American rights.

Principal photography is set to begin on May 19 in Detroit, Michigan. Stevenson, who recently starred in Punisher: War Zone, will portray the vicious Irsh-American gangster Danny Greene, who muscled in on the Italian mob in 1970s Cleveland, Ohio, and caused a cataclysmic upheaval in the American gangster scene.

Christopher Walken will play the loan-shark nightclub owner Shondor Birns and Val Kilmer stars as the Cleveland detective who befriends Greene. Additional casting will be announced shortly. 

Code’s Al Corley, Bart Rosenblatt and Eugene Musso will produce along with Dundee Entertainment’s Tommy Reid and Tara Reid, who brought the property to Code. Dana, Peter Miller and Porrello are executive producers.

Hensleigh co-wrote the screenplay with Jeremy Walters inspired by Rick Porrello’s book To Kill The Irishman: The War That Crippled The Mafia. Hensleigh previously directed The Punisher and wrote the screenplays for Die Hard With A Vengeance, Jumanji, Armageddon and Next.

Hensleigh, Walken and Kilmer are represented by ICM. Stevenson is represented by Endeavor.