Long-in-the-works adaptation moving forward…

THR has learned that Zac Efron (‘That Awkward Moment,’ ‘Parkland,’ ‘The Paperboy’) has signed on to star in an adaptation of John Grisham’s bestselling legal thriller ‘The Associate.’

Published back in 2009, the book is officially described as follows:

“Kyle McAvoy possesses an outstanding legal mind. Good-looking and affable, he has a glittering future. He also has a dark secret that could destroy his dreams, his career, even his life. One night that secret catches up with him. The men who accost Kyle have a compromising video they’ll use to ruin him–unless he does exactly what they say. What they offer Kyle is something any ambitious young lawyer would kill for: a job in Manhattan as an associate at the world’s largest law firm. If Kyle accepts, he’ll be on the fast track to partnership and a fortune. But there’s a catch. Kyle won’t be working for the firm but against it in a dispute between two powerful defense contractors worth billions. Now Kyle is caught between the criminal forces manipulating him, the FBI, and his own law firm–in a malignant conspiracy not even Kyle with all his intellect, cunning, and bravery may be able to escape alive.”

The thriller was originally in development over at Paramount Pictures with Shia LaBeouf leading and ‘The Departed’ screenwriter William Monahan adapting the script. Adrian Lyne (‘Fatal Attraction,’ ‘Flashdance’) recently flirted with the idea of directing but the project once again fell into development hell.

In addition to headlining the adaptation, Efron take a producers credit through his Ninja’s Runnin Wild banner, along with Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher of Red Wagon Entertainment (‘Divergent’). The project is now out to scribes to provide a new draft of the script.

Efron will next be seen starring alongside Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne in Nicholas Stoller’s ‘Bad Neighbours’ when it arrives in Irish cinemas May 3rd.