We’ve known about the upcoming Mary Pickford biopic for nearly two months, but based on the apparent fire under the tails of the production’s producers, Jennifer DiLea and Julie Pacino, it’s somewhat surprising that it’s taken this long for casting buzz to arrive. Deadline Charlotte reports that the pair have cast Lily Rabe (who starred in the last season of American Horror Story and led the well-received indie Letters From the Big Man and who also happens to be the daughter of Jill Clayburgh and playwright David Rabe) to star as silent film mega-star and Hollywood pioneer Pickford. The pair reportedly picked Rabe because of her skill in live theater, which is convenient, as that’s precisely how Pickford got her start.
DeLia said, “Julie and I noticed an intriguing quality in Lily when watching her perform on stage – something that felt so authentic and pitch-perfect. And like Lily, Mary Pickford’s inner-fabric was made up in big part by her experiences with live performance in the theatre…Mary became known for those instincts and those same instincts were what drew us to Lily, knowing how difficult that range is to achieve…Lily didn’t know that we were seriously thinking of her for the part but when we talked about Pickford, her passion for the story was clear.”
Forbes also reports that the pair are seeking out Jude Law to play her one-time husband and partner, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., a huge star in his own right. The pair were early Hollywood royalty, and they matched their out-and-out star wattage with business acumen, founding United Artists with D.W. Griffith and Charlie Chaplin in 1919.
Josh Fagin (Warrior) is adapting the film’s script from Eileen Whitfield’s “Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood.” The film is not slated to start production until next year, but DeLia and Pacino are reportedly hard at work on casting key roles, including Charlie Chaplin, Fairbanks, Charlotte Hennessy, Frances Marion, and Griffith.
While some rumors have abound that the pair wanted Jonathan Demme to direct, it is DeLia herself who will direct, though Demme had expressed interest in the job, though his schedule kept him from taking it.
Whitfield’s nearly 500 page biography was published back in 2007, and you can get a glimpse at some pages HERE.