‘The Little Things’: Read The Screenplay For John Lee Hancock’s Crime Thriller That Was Worth The Wait

John Lee Hancock wrote the screenplay for Warner Bros’ crime thriller The Little Things in 1992, around the time he penned A Perfect World and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, both for director Clint Eastwood. At the time an in-demand screenwriter, he hadn’t been a director yet, and the script, about a pair of cops who try to catch a serial killer, went through several iterations.

After Hancock found success as a director — his helming credits include The Rookie, The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks and later The Founder — the project eventually came around to him, but “it was kind of a dark movie and I had little kids at the time, and I didn’t necessarily want to live in that place for two years.”

His kids in college and with Hancock at the helm, The Little Things is now a big thing: The Warner Bros pic stars a trio of Oscar winners in Denzel Washington and Rami Malek as the cops and Jared Leto as the creepy Albert Sparma, a role that has already earned him Golden Globe and SAG Awards supporting actor noms.

Washington plays Deke, a burnt-out Kern County, CA deputy sheriff who teams with Baxter (Malek), a crack Los Angeles Sheriff’s department detective, to nab Sparma. Deke’s nose for the “little things” proves eerily accurate, but his willingness to circumvent the rules embroils Baxter in a soul-shattering dilemma. Meanwhile, Deke must wrestle with a dark secret from his past.

Hancock kept the timeframe of the story in the early 1990s, meaning that what was at the time contemporary crime thriller was now a period piece of sorts. “I wanted to make it harder on the detectives — the more grueling it is, the darker it becomes,” he explained during Deadline’s Contenders Film awards-season event last month. “Before cell phones, they couldn’t stay in touch, they constantly had to have a roll of quarters and know where the public phones were. … I just like period setting in L.A. in that era.”

Warner Bros opened the pic January 28 in theaters and on HBO Max.

Read Hancock’s script below:

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