It was recently announced that actress Tessa Thompson would take on the role of Doris Payne, the iconic 87-year-old jewel thief who has been scamming for decades.
Following the announcement Thompson tweeted, “After chasing Doris and her story for years—and then keeping this secret for awhile— I’m screaming that this dream is coming true. She is a deeply fascinating woman. So pleased to bring this story to the screen with CodeBlack & Lionsgate. Beyond grateful.”
While the film is still in the early stages, there’s plenty to learn about Payne ahead of its release. Here are five things to know about America’s favorite jewel thief.
1. Born in Slab Fork, West Virginia to a coal miner, Payne says she’s never actually had a legitimate job but she never really needed to. Payne would dress nicely and use her charm to trick jewelry store employees into giving her the goods and is believed to have made millions of dollars during her career.
2. Halle Berry was originally set to play Payne in 2009 with a script written by Eunetta Boone. However, things got flipped when Boone and Payne teamed up for a documentary, The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne.
3. Payne is such an iconic jewel thief that Jewelers’ Security Alliance president John J. Kennedy told Business Insider in 2015 that people ask about her quite often and that Payne’s lengthy career is pretty rare. “It’s extraordinarily rare for a criminal to have that lengthy of a career. Usually, they either stop because they have enough money and they don’t want the risk anymore, or they’re dead,” he said.
4. Payne is most famous for pulling off a scam in Monte Carlo in the 1970s. The jewel thief made off with a 10-carat diamond ring valued at more than a half million dollars.
5. Payne was last arrested in 2017 after allegedly shoplifting at an Atlanta-area Walmart while wearing an ankle monitor from a previous case.