Tessa Thompson to Portray International Jewel Thief Doris Payne in Untitled Heist Drama

Tessa Thompson (Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)

American actress Tessa Thompson will play the role of Doris Payne, famed international jewel thief, in an upcoming, still-untitled heist drama.

According to Variety, Thompson, alongside Codeblack Films’ Jeff Clanagan, will produce the film. Codeblack launched the project after obtaining Payne’s life rights.


Thompson’s credits include Thor: Ragnorok, Creed and Westworld. This latest role will certainly be interesting; Payne, over six decades, stole some $2 million in jewelry from across the globe.

In that time span, Payne, who is now 87, was arrested multiple times and has admitted to using at least 20 aliases, 10 Social Security numbers and nine dates of birth. Her fascinating life was the subject of the 2013 documentary The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne, which detailed many of her crimes, including her earliest thefts.

In this Jan. 11, 2016, file photo, Doris Payne speaks during an interview in Atlanta. (John Bazemore, File/AP Images)

In that documentary she is quoted as saying: “I do not have any regrets about stealing jewelry. I regret getting caught.”


Payne’s sleight of hand continued well into her old age. One of the last times she was arrested for shoplifting was in July 2017 at a Georgia Walmart, where she relieved the store of some $86.22 worth of goods.

Payne pleaded guilty in that case and vowed to give up stealing, signaling her retirement.

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Breanna Edwards

News Editor at The Root, animation nerd, soca junkie, yogi