Writer, director and producer Deborah Kampmeier and producer Troy Johanson of Full Moon Films made the casting announcement Friday.
"A wild woman who transgressed gender laws and the color bar searching to understand her own mysterious passions, McCullers is the author of the classic novels 'The Heart is a Lonely Hunter' and 'The Member of the Wedding,'" the filmmakers said in a synopsis.
"Plagued by crippling illness and torrid marriages, her imagination provided a sanctuary that she shared with us all. 'Lonely Hunter' will span 35 years in McCullers' life and feature notable figures including her best friend Tennessee Williams, her protege Truman Capote, her roommate Gypsy Rose Lee and collaborator Ethel Waters."
Kampmeier will direct, as well as produce the film with Johanson and Blair Breard.
Abigail Disney of Fork Films will executive produce the movie, which is scheduled to begin shooting in the spring.
Malone's film credits include "Bastard Out of Carolina," "Pride and Prejudice" and "Donnie Darko."
"Jena's vulnerability, curiosity, and passion are perfect for Carson. She is extremely gifted and I'm thrilled to be working with Jena in what I'm sure will be a very creative and exciting process," Kampmeier said in a statement.