LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Singer, dancer and one-time Playboy magazine model Willa Ford will star as the late Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith in a biographical film about the billionaire’s widow that starts shooting next week.
A publicist for Ford, best known for her hit single “I Wanna Be Bad” and a stint on the ABC television show “Dancing with the Stars,” confirmed a report in Wednesday’s Daily Variety that she was signed to play the title role in the film, “Anna Nicole.”
Like Smith, who sprang to fame as a model for the Guess? fashion line and as Playboy’s Playmate of the Year, Ford once posed nude for the men’s magazine.
Variety said the independently produced movie would cover Smith’s life from the age of 17 until her February 8 death in Florida from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs, five months after giving birth to a baby girl, Dannielynn.
A dispute over the baby’s paternity was settled on Tuesday when a court in the Bahamas released DNA test results showing that Smith’s former boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, was the child’s father.
The baby could one day be worth millions if Smith’s estate wins a decade-long battle to inherit a fortune from the late oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall. He married Smith when she was 26 and he was 89. Marshall died 14 months later.
Ford, 26, a Florida native, began singing at age 8 in a children’s choir and released her first album, “Willa Was Here,” in 2001, billing herself as the “bad girl of pop.”
In addition to the “Anna Nicole” film in the works, a book titled “Train Wreck: The Life and Death of Anna Nicole Smith,” written by Smith’s half-sister, Donna Hogan, is due to hit bookstores this week.
Appearing on the CBS’ “The Early Show” this week to promote the book, Hogan was asked why she chose “Train Wreck” for the title.
“I guess because that’s what the media kept typecasting her as ... and the more I saw her toward the end of her career, that’s what she basically looked like,” Hogan said. “I felt really bad for her.”