London, May 18 : Julia Roberts is to star in a biopic of Joan Root, a British environmentalist who was shot dead in her Kenyan home two years ago after she fought to save the lake she lived by from being poisoned.
Pals of the 'Pretty Woman' star said that the actress was so shocked by Root's death that she had decided to make 'A Flowering Evil', her first starring role in five years, to focus attention on the still-unsolved murder.
Cops suspect Root, 69, may have been killed by gunmen hired by flower farmers she had accused of polluting nearby Lake Naivasha with illegal pesticides.
A trial of two men accused of spraying her with bullets from AK-47 assault rifles collapsed last year. Police admit they have no further leads, reports Times Online.
Root, the daughter of British coffee growers, learnt to live with danger during the 1960s when she made pioneering wildlife films with her husband Alan.
She snorkelled with hippopotamuses and charmed snakes out of thorn trees for the camera.
In recent years Root had been threatened by a new wave of black nationalists who disliked her passion for conservation. Nairobi politicians denounced her "interfering ways" and local thugs threw bricks through her windows. However, she continued to stand up against businesses she accused of blighting the environment.
In January 2006 killers broke into her bedroom, after bypassing alarms and reinforced steel doors, and shot her. Nothing was stolen.
John Sutton, her security consultant in neighboring Tanzania, received a call from her that night. "She was saying, 'John, help,' and then her voice faded away," he recalled. Hit twice in the leg and once in the hip, she died from loss of blood before help could arrive.