|RICHARD JEWELLOLIVIA WILDE|
When Kathy Bates smashed that sledgehammer into James Caan's ankles 30 years ago in Misery, the world may have collectively cringed, but it made Bates an unforgettable force in Hollywood history.
The then 42-year-old actress wasn't a household name when she took on that role of homicidal nurse Annie Wilkes. She'd had theatrical successes, and appeared in a few smaller films and television shows like St. Elsewhere and L.A. Law. And yet, that year, she took home an Oscar, proving the game wasn't up for women over 35. Not by a long shot.
This year, Bates is enjoying her fourth Oscar nomination, this time for Richard Jewell, the Clint Eastwood-directed true tale of a heroic security guard falsely accused of planting a bomb at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, although he actually found the device and saved many lives.Warner Bros.
Despite the Academy recognition, it's only very recently, in conversation with Eastwood, that she allowed herself to consider her success.
“I said to Clint, 'I've been doing this for 50 years, but I finally feel like I hit the big time.'” She says. “And I don't mean with all the marching bands and the confetti, I mean, working with another incredible director, and doing a story that matters.”
And Richard Jewell really does matter, in that telling the true story of a wrongly-accused person will always matter. Jewell surely deserves all the public exoneration a big-name feature film can deliver, even after his untimely death at 44 in 2007.
The film details his intense media and FBI hounding, while his mother Bobi, played by Bates, suffers under the weight of defending her son.Warner Bros.
Feeling “extremely nervous”, Bates flew to Atlanta ahead of the shoot for her first ever meeting with Eastwood. “I remember asking him why he wanted to make this movie,” she says, “and at first he looked up with those eyes and I thought, 'Oh God, here we go.' Then he said, 'Well, I think it's a movie I'd like to see.' He was so angry at how Richard had been treated. He felt this was an American tragedy, and that it needed to be told.”
So, she went to work, researching Bobi Jewell. And then they met. “We sat and talked for two or three hours and I recorded her voice. We went through the script and she corrected a few things. She teared up quite a few times. She was very determined. She gave me the Vanity Fair article that Marie Brenner had written that the film is based on. Bobi looked very different then, she was more my size, so that made me feel good. At one point I said, 'I just want to get this right for you Bobi.' And almost like a little girl, she said, 'Well, just be me.' And I thought, 'Oh...
In this digital era, more and more creatives are going the online streaming way to get difficult projects funded by more accomodating streaming giants like Netflix and HBO. But a theatrical release is still a powerful draw, as proven by Searchlight Pictures' recently winning a fierce bidding war to produce American gymnast biopic Perfect, with Olivia Wilde set to direct, for $15 million.
Perfect is based on gymnast Kerri Strug's memoir 'Landing on my Feet, a Diary of Dreams'. The story follows Strug's career all the way to the 1996 Olympics when an 18-year-old Strug performed her routine despite having a severely injured ankle, helping her team win its first gold medal.
It is the kind of positive, inspiring true-to-life story with a feminist twist that has every chance of becoming a darling of the critics and a box-office hit, so there is no wonder there was a fierce bidding war to buy the rights to the Kerri Strug movie when Wilde made her presentation of the script written by Ronnie Sandahl at the Berlin Film Festival last month.
It is being said that HBO Max was particularly anxious to buy the project, and offered a great deal more money than the other, more traditional movie production teams, which included A24, WB, and Paramount. But Wilde instead chose to go with the option which would ensure that her film would be released in theaters before going to home streaming.
Wilde has already garnered acclaim for her debut feature as a director Booksmart, which got her an Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature Film. Backed by her win, she was able to get the lucrative deal with Searchlight, with CAA Media Finance brokering the deal. Nik Bower is attached to co-produce Perfect for Riverstone Pictures and Thomas Benski for Pulse Films, along with Jeremy Baxter and Moss Barclay. Wilde will act as executive producer along with Deepak Nayer, Marisa Clifford, and Sandalh.
Strug's triumph at the 1996 Olympics is widely considered one of the most iconic moments for women in sports. The photo of Strug with her injured ankle being carried out to the medals podium to join her teammates is frequently cited in online lists of the most inspiring examples of perseverance and team spirit in sports.
Following the event, Strug became an instant celebrity, appearing on one talk show after another, visiting President Clinton, and featuring on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The athlete's achievement also became the stuff of pop legend, finding reference on many shows like Murphy Brown, Community, and Sabrina: The Teenage Witch.
As of now, there is no news on the casting for the film, neither is a start date for filming locked down. With the present condition of the world not allowing for any kind of gathering of large groups, the production of the movie will no doubt have to be stalled indefinitely until conditions improve enough for the project to begin filming. Deadline brougt this news first....