After playing a Marvel superhero Doctor Strange and returning as the iconic detective Sherlock Holmes on the small screen, Benedict Cumberbatch may be shifting gears, eyeing a new true story adaptation. The actor has entered negotiations to play con artist Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter in The Man in the Rockefeller Suit for Fox Searchlight Pictures. If a deal comes together, this will mark just the latest in a long line of fascinating real-life characters the Oscar-nominated actor has portrayed in his career.
Deadline reports that David Bar Katz (The Pest) will write the adapted screenplay, based on Mark Seal’s book of the same name. Donald De Line will produce, with Fox Searchlight currently searching for a director before setting a production schedule. It remains to be seen if the studio wants to start production this year, of if they are aiming for a specific release date at this time for the biopic.
Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter was born in Germany, but in the late 1970s, he made his way to America under several false pretenses and phony identities. After a stint in Connecticut, the con artist made his way to Wisconsin, where he studied at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and he married Amy Jersild Duhnke in 1981, supposedly only to get his green card. He falsely claimed that he would have to go back to Germany and fight in the Cold War if she did not marry him. A day after the wedding, he left her and made his way to San Marino, California, where he stayed in a guest house belonging to the mother of Jonathan Solhus and his wife Linda, who both mysteriously went missing in 1985. Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter would relocate back to the East Coast, where in 1995, he used the name Clark Rockefeller, claiming to be part of the wealthy Rockefeller family, to marry a woman named Sandra Boss.
Sandra Boss was a high-ranking executive at the management consulting firm McKinsey, who was the sole breadwinner in the family, although Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter controlled all of the family’s finances. Sandra Boss hired a private investigator in 2006 and learned that “Clark Rockefeller” wasn’t who he said he was and had no ties to the Rockefeller family, which lead to their divorce. During a supervised visit with his eight-year-old daughter in 2008, Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter kidnapped her, and he was apprehended a week later in Baltimore, Maryland. In 2009, he was found guilty of parental kidnapping and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and sentenced to four to five years. However, later that year, a grand jury was convened to look into Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter’s connection to the 1980s murder of Jonathan Sohus, whose bones were found buried in the backyard of his house in 1994, nearly a decade after he went missing. In August 2013, Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter was found guilty of murdering Jonathan Sohus, and was given the maximum sentence of 27 years to life. He will be eligible for parole in 2039, when he will be 78 years old.
Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter’s story was previously told on the small screen in the 2010 Lifetime TV movie Who Is Clark Rockefeller?, which starred Eric McCormack as Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter and Sherry Stringfield as Sandra Boss. The movie came out one year before The Man in the Rockefeller Suit book was published by Mark Seal. Benedict Cumberbatch will next be seen portraying Thomas Edison in The Current War, while reprising his role as Doctor Strange in Thor: Ragnarok and next year’s Avengers: Infinity War. He previously played real-life characters such as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, Billy Bulger in Black Mass and Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate. Hopefully we’ll hear more about The Man in The Rockefeller Suit soon.