Rash’s ‘Serena’ headed to big screen

Numerous entertainment publications are reporting that filming will begin soon for the motion picture adaptation of “Serena,” the bestselling novel penned by Ron Rash, Western Carolina University’s Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Culture.

Ron Rash

Actors Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, who recently played leading roles in the to-be-released David O. Russell movie, “The Silver Linings Playbook,” will team together again in “Serena,” which is set for release in 2014. The location of the filming has not been announced.

Lawrence was in North Carolina last year for filming of “The Hunger Games,” to be released next month.

Rash’s Depression-era novel tells the story of a timber baron, George Pemberton, and his ruthless wife, Serena, who move to Western North Carolina to create a business empire. When Serena finds out she cannot bear children, her anger becomes directed toward her husband’s illegitimate son. Cooper and Lawrence will portray George and Serena Pemberton.

The movie will be directed by Academy Award winner Susanne Bier for 2929 Productions. Bier recently finished her work on an Italian drama with Pierce Brosnan titled “All You Need Is Love.” Her other films are “Things We Lost in the Fire” and “In a Better World.”

The release of the book version of “Serena” in September 2008 resulted in a cascade of glowing reviews for Rash, a descendant of Southern Appalachian families who was raised in Boiling Springs. Reports about the movie version of “Serena” are appearing as the literary world looks toward the April 10 release of Rash’s new novel, “The Cove.” That book is set in Western North Carolina during World War I.

Rash teaches creative writing and Appalachian literature at WCU. His nine works of fiction also include the short story collection “Burning Bright,” which garnered him the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award, the world’s richest prize for the short story literary form.