Natalie Portman (left) signed on to star in a biopic about the identical twin sisters known as Dear Abby (bottom right) and Ann Landers (top right). Natalie Portman (left) signed on to star in a biopic about the identical twin sisters known as Dear Abby (bottom right) and Ann Landers (top right). Natalie Portman (left) signed on to star in a biopic about the identical twin sisters known as Dear Abby (bottom right) and Ann Landers (top right). (Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images, Wikimedia Commons)

Natalie Portman will direct and star in a Dear Abby-Ann Landers biopic

The A-list actress will play both roles of the feuding advice columnist identical twins.

For decades, Dear Abby and Ann Landers entertained and enlightened readers with their no-nonsense, direct approach to advice writing, their columns appearing in syndication in newspapers around the world to this day.

But behind the endearing bylines, the two writers were actually identical twins Esther and Pauline Friedman, an overly competitive and audacious pair born in Sioux City, Iowa. They began a bitter feud when one twin started writing an advice column similar to the one the other twin was already writing. The sisters' rivalry went on for years; it was the subject of a salacious 1958 spread in Life Magazine titled "Twin Lovelorn Advisors Torn Asunder by Success," describing their relationship as the "most feverish female feud since Elizabeth sent Mary Queen of Scots to the chopping block."

Esther Friedman (later Lederer) died of cancer in 2002; Pauline Friedman (later Phillips) died in 2013 after battling Alzheimer's disease for years.

And now, the twins' tumultuous yet loving discord is the subject of an as-yet-untitled film, to be directed by Israeli-American A-list actress Natalie Portman. The role of both twins, who in later years went by the nicknames "Eppie" and "Popo," also goes to Portman, making her the triple threat of the upcoming film.

A Hollywood Walk of Fame star was unveiled in honor of Dear Abby in 2015, two years after the original columnist's death. A Hollywood Walk of Fame star was unveiled in honor of Dear Abby in 2015, two years after the original columnist's death. (Photo: Tami Freed/Shutterstock)

This is Portman's second stint at film directing; she also directed "A Tale of Love and Darkness," a film set in Jerusalem and produced by Israeli Ram Bergman, last year.

Natalie Portman in 'A Tale of Love and Darkness,' a film produced by Ram Bergman. Natalie Portman in 'A Tale of Love and Darkness,' a film produced by Ram Bergman. (Photo: Focus World)

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