VARIETY – Sigourney Weaver and Margaret Qualley are set to co-star in “My Salinger Year,” the big-screen adaptation of Joanna Rakoff’s international bestseller, which will be directed by Oscar-nominated Canadian director Philippe Falardeau.
Memento Films International (“Call Me by Your Name”) has come on board to handle international sales and is co-representing the U.S. rights with UTA Independent Film Group.
“This is a total crowd-pleaser that will draw a substantial audience,” said Tanja Meissner, head of international sales at Memento. “All the relevant ingredients are assembled: an irresistibly charming and tender story in which ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ meets the literary world.”
“My Salinger Year” will start shooting in Montreal and New York this Spring. Luc Déry and Kim McCraw from micro_scope are producing the film. The Canadian company’s critically acclaimed credits include Denis Villeneuve’s “Incendies” and “Enemy,” as well as Falardeau’s “Monsieur Lazhar,” which was nominated for the foreign-language Oscar in 2012.
Written by Falardeau and based on Rakoff’s book, “My Salinger Year” takes place in New York in the ’90s and follows Joanna (Qualley), who leaves graduate school to pursue her dream of becoming a writer and gets hired as an assistant to Margaret (Weaver), the stoic and old-fashioned literary agent of J. D. Salinger.
Fluctuating between poverty and glamour, Qualley spends her days in a plush office and her nights in a sink-less Brooklyn apartment with her socialist boyfriend. Joanna’s main task is processing Salinger’s voluminous fan mail, but as she reads letters from around the world, she impulsively begins personalizing the responses, discovering her own voice in the process.
“After directing seven features starring mostly male protagonists, I was longing to shift the paradigm and tell a story from a female perspective,” said Falardeau, whose credits also include “The Good Lie” and “Chuck,” starring Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts and Elisabeth Moss, which premiered in Venice and Toronto.
“I now get to do that with the help of two very talented actresses who should prove to make an exciting duo in this mentor-mentee story,” Falardeau said.
“My Salinger Year” is co-produced by Ruth Coady and Susan Mullen at Irish company Parallel Films (“Brooklyn,” “Mary Shelley”) in Ireland. Mary Jane Skalski at Next Wednesday Films and author Rakoff are exec-producing.
Memento Films International, which had a banner year in 2018 with the Oscar-winning “Call Me by Your Name,” is boasting a strong slate of prestige English-language films, notably Benedict Andrews’ “Against All Enemies,” with Kristen Stewart.
“My Salinger Year” will be distributed in Canada by Mongrel Media.
Falardeau, Weaver and Qualley are repped by UTA, and Rakoff by WME. Qualley is also repped by Management 360 and attorney Harris Hartman.
Jamie Bell, Margaret Qualley & Director Tim Sutton Reteam For ‘The Chain’; Sebastian Stan Also Starring In Voltage Production – EFM
DEADLINE – EXCLUSIVE: Voltage Pictures has boarded international sales on Tim Sutton’s upcoming thriller The Chain, which reunites the filmmaker with his Donnybrook stars Jamie Bell and Margaret Qualley. Both stars are in talks to join in addition to Colette‘s Denise Gough and Captain America: Civil War‘s Sebastian Stan.
Voltage president and COO Jonathan Deckter announced the news today.
The Chain, which Sutton adapted from Tobias Wolff’s award-winning short story of the same name, follows the story of a man’s daughter who is viciously attacked by a dog, setting off a chain of events that ends in unspeakable tragedy. This is the second feature-length adaption of Wolff’s literary work; his memoir This Boy’s Life was adapted into the hit feature film of the same name starring Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Barkin. Production on The Chain will start in April.
Producers are Rumble Films’ David Lancaster (Whiplash, Nightcrawler, Eye in the Sky) and Stephanie Wilcox (Small Crimes, Donnybrook). Deckter negotiated the deal with Jon Shiffman COO/CFO of Rumble Films on behalf of the producers. UTA will rep North American rights. Rumble Films also produced Sutton’s bare-knuckle pugilist pic Donnybrook which made its world premiere at last year’s Toronto Film Festival’s Platform Section, won the 2018 Fantastic Fest main competition and will be released by IFC Films in 2019.
“The incomparable Tobias Wolff is one of my favorite authors and we’re even bigger fans of Jamie Bell since working with him on the powerful feature Skin,” said Deckter. “We’re thrilled to partner with our friends at Rumble Films to bring Tim Sutton’s adaptation to audiences around the world. It ticks all the boxes for a strong, international commercial contender so we could not be happier to be representing The Chain,” Deckter continued.
The Chain is the latest film to be added to Voltage’s production and sales slate for Berlin. The company recently announced its new production Blackwing from writer David Loughery and its worldwide representation of the social media thriller Follow Me.
Bell who first rose to prominence in his debut role in Billy Elliot, most recently played Bryon Widner in Guy Nattiv’s skinhead redemption drama Skin, which won the FIPRESCI prize at Toronto and is set to open in the Panorama section at this year’s Berlin. He is repped by UTA and Artists Independent Management.
Two-time Olivier Award-winning actress Denise Gough’s film credits include Bleecker Street Media’s Colette opposite Keira Knightley and Dominic West and Lionsgate’s Juliet, Naked opposite Rose Byrne and Chris O’Dowd. Gough was nominated for Best Featured Actress in a Play at the 2018 Tony Awards for her role in Angels in America. She recently wrapped Monday and can next be seen in 20th Century Fox’s The Kid Who Would Be King, which is currently in release. Gough is repped by UTA and Independent Talent Group.
Qualley is best known for her role as Jill Garvey on the HBO series The Leftovers. Her film credits include Shane Black’s The Nice Guys and Maggie Bett’s Novitiate. Qualley will next star in the FX limited series Fosse/Verdon opposite Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams, premiering in the spring. She is repped by UTA and Management 360.
VARIETY – FX has set the main cast for the eight-episode limited series “Fosse/Verdon,” Variety has learned.
The series is based on the biography “Fosse” written by Sam Wasson and tells the story of the romantic and creative partnership between Bob Fosse (Sam Rockwell) and Gwen Verdon (Michelle Williams).
Norbert Leo Butz has been cast in the series regular role of Paddy Chayefsky, while Margaret Qually will appear in the series regular role of Ann Reinking.
In addition, the following people have been cast in recurring roles: Aya Cash as Joan Simon, Nate Corddry as Neil Simon, Susan Misner as Joan McCracken, Bianca Marroquin as Chita Rivera, Kelli Barrett as Liza Minnelli, Evan Handler as Hal Prince, Rick Holmes as Fred Weaver, Paul Reiser as Cy Feuer, Ethan Slater as Joel Grey, Byron Jennings as George Abbott, and Laura Osnes as Shirley MacLaine.
Butz is currently starring on Broadway in “My Fair Lady” and recently starred in the critically-acclaimed Netflix series “Bloodline.” He also starred in “Mercy Street” at PBS, “The Deep End” at ABC, and the mini-series “Comanche Moon” at CBS. To date he has won two Tony Awards: one for his performance as Freddy Benson in the Broadway production of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” and his second for his performance as Carl Hanratty in “Catch Me If You Can.” His film credits include “Better Living Through Chemistry,” “Greetings From Tim Buckley,” “Disconnect,” “The English Teacher,” “Higher Ground,” “Fair Game,” and “Dan in Real Life.”
Qualley will next appear in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” with Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Margot Robbie. Her performance in Margaret Betts’s “Novitiate,” opposite Melissa Leo and Julianne Nicholson, earned her rave reviews at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Additional credits include “The Nice Guys,” and HBO’s “The Leftovers.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, Steven Levenson, and George Stelzner will executive produce, with Rockwell and Williams also executive producing. Levenson, who will serve as showrunner, wrote the premiere episode which will be directed by Kail. Nicole Fosse, daughter of Fosse and Verdon, serves as co-executive producer and oversees The Verdon Fosse Legacy. Co-producer Andy Blankenbuehler is the choreographer, as is Misner. Erica Kay serves as producer.
Where are you from?
I was born in Montana and grew up in North Carolina. They’re really outdoors-y places so I love being around trees and animals.
Are you a Sundance virgin?
Yes, this will be my first year. And I’m really excited about it.
Because of your viral Kenzo ad, everyone will be asking you to dance at Sundance. How will you respond?
I guess I’ll just break out into dance, you know? I’ve gotten a lot of awesome, positive feedback from that video. I had so much fun doing it. And Spike [Jonze] is the best.
How does it feel to be a Sundance sensation?
I don’t think I can call myself a Sundance sensation. You’re putting me on the spot.
What is the buzz about your movie, Novitiate?
It’s an unconventional love story — between my character and Jesus. In some ways it’s a coming-of-age story set in a convent. My character is enraptured; she falls in love with Jesus and kind of breaks up with Him and in the process, she becomes a woman. Also, it was such a powerful, woman-heavy set: We had a female director, a female DP and an entirely female cast. I don’t think it would have been right to do it any other way: The story is about all these women and to not have a woman in charge of it would have been a terrible injustice.
How would you describe your character?
She’s an innocent, loving, lost girl.
Do you relate to your character?
She’s probably a better person than I am. But I definitely felt some of the things that she feels: She has this overwhelming urge to be a good person. She craves love and intimacy.
How did you land this part?
I met with the director, Maggie Betts, and we just got along really well. I knew she was doing this story about nuns and at our first meeting I was like: “I’m not Christian at all and I don’t know much about this world but I would like to learn about it.” I don’t know if that’s the best way to start a conversation, but it was how our conversation started. Fortunately, she was like: “OK, let’s do it.”
Tell me about your other movie, Sidney Hall.
I have a small part in it. I only have a couple scenes and I basically just chew out Elle Fanning. I’m really mean to her. She’s a very sweet girl, so it was hard to do that.
How would you describe your character?
She’s just a mess. A New York party animal and a lost soul. The opposite of a nun.
What was your first acting experience?
I had a tiny part in Gia Coppola’s film, Palo Alto. I don’t even say anything. I was just happy to be on set hanging out because I was visiting a friend and Gia needed a girl to essentially cry to James Franco. So she was like: “Margaret, will you do that?” And so I did that and that was my first acting experience: James Franco made me cry. After that, my first real part was Jill on The Leftovers.
What was your big break?
I’ve been really lucky and I’m so wildly grateful. But I don’t know if I’ll ever feel like that. I’ll always want to continue doing things that scare me.
Did you ever have a normal job?
Other than babysitting neighbors in North Carolina I didn’t. I was a dancer and that was very much a job to me growing up — an unpaid job. But I was in the ballet studio for like six hours a day. I was going to drop out of high school and join a small company, but that’s when I moved to New York and began studying at the American Ballet Theater over the summer. I met with a modeling agency and I started to get jobs. So I guess my modeling was normal-ish. It’s not a normal job at all, though.
What have heard about the Sundance scene?
I’ve been told to wear waterproof shoes. And try to see as many movies as I can.
What will you pack?
I’m bringing my dog — I just rescued a dog with my sister His name is Books. He’s half lab and half chow chow and he’s adorable. My sister and I share him. She has to come to Sundance, too. So warm clothes, long johns, my puppy and my sister.
How will you spend your free time at the festival?
Snowboarding. I don’t do any tricks but I can go down a nice, steep hill without falling.
What is more important to you: Looking stylish or staying warm?
Staying warm. I just did this sci-fi romance type of movie with Anthony Mackie. The first two months were in France, and the last fifteen days were in Bulgaria. I was freezing. I filled up hot water bottles and put them under my costume, so the second half of the movie I look pregnant. I was like: Fuck this. It was so fucking cold. I don’t give a shit about anything. I’m wearing three-inch wool thermals under my costume and a hot water bottle on my belly. So what if it looks like I gained fifteen pounds?
What do you think about Robert Redford?
My old dog passed away but he was named Butch from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid. That was a favorite of my parents when I was a little kid. I saw it when I was five — I probably saw a lot of movies that I shouldn’t have seen when I was a kid. I just love it because of my dog.