Update: Jamie Lee Curtis, Woody Harrelson, Ayo Edibiri, Albert Brooks, Kumail Nanjiani, and Spike Fearn have also joined the film, Deadline reports.
In the thirteen years since his last directorial feature, James L. Brooks has stayed busy helping emerging filmmakers like Kelly Fremon Craig realize their visions with the stellar The Edge of Seventeen and this year’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Thankfully, the 83-year-old filmmaker is now getting behind the camera once again for a long-awaited directorial feature.
Brooks is set to kick off production on Ella McCay, a 20th Century Studios project, by the end of the year. Set to star Emma Mackey (Emily, Barbie), the romantic drama follows an “idealistic politician poised to run governor as she deals with lingering family issues.” The project was mentioned in the latest issue of Production Weekly and confirmed by the Boston Globe and Providence Journal, both based near where the film is set to shoot.
In the film, Mackey’s character will also be “taking care of her socially anxious, estranged brother who has become a shut in, and her marriage to her high school sweetheart…. who loves the limelight of Ella’s burgeoning career but wants Ella to give their marriage as much attention as she gives her work.” Production is expected to last through May 2024; we can expect a 2025 release.
Brooks, who worked with Jack Nicholson on As Good as It Gets, also recently chimed in about the actor’s supposed retirement. “I don’t think he’s retired,” Brooks told The Wrap. “I don’t buy that he’s retired.” He added, “I remember there was once a friend of mine who [had] one of these raging, alcoholic-driven arguments [with me] about who was the greatest actor at the time. This was at Dustin Hoffman’s height and everything like that. I’m saying Jack Nicholson. He’s saying Dustin Hoffman. I went with [Nicholson] because I said Jack could play either in ‘The Odd Couple.’” Might Nicholson have a role in his latest project? We can only dream.