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Ethan Hawke to write, produce, and direct Flannery O’Connor biopic


Shutterstock | spatuletail

J-P Mauro - published on 02/20/23

The biopic will follow the life story of Flannery O’Connor as she attempts to get her first novel, 'Wise Blood,' published in the 1950s.

Famed actor Ethan Hawke is taking charge of a new biopic on the celebrated Catholic author, Flannery O’Connor, Wildcat, for which he will serve as director, producer, and co-writer alongside Shelby Gaines. Keeping the project in the family, Ethan secured his daughter Maya Hawke to play the titular role of O’Connor, with a list of industry names supporting her. 

Flannery O’Connor was a mid-20th-century devout Catholic author whose body of work remains influential in literature, especially among Catholics. Her writings often included racial elements reflective of her era during the Civil Rights Movement, which generally presented racial biases as unjust, narrow-minded, and even sinful. Fr. Austin Dominic Litke, OP, explained of O’Connor in an article for Aleteia

“That is, while Miss Flannery found herself in an American South where the social conventions dictated a whole set of prejudices, her Christian and Catholic faith pointed her elsewhere. This disparity touched her both as a writer and a Christian. Her place as a writer required her to make use of her time and place, which every writer has to do in some way, to point out the injustice of these prejudices. Her place as a Christian, however, required her to do so not in the name of ‘civil rights’ or ‘social justice,’ but in the name of Christ who came to save all people and effect a real union of all peoples with God, regardless of race.”

According to Variety, the film will follow O’Connor’s life story as she attempts to get her first book, Wise Blood, published in the early 1950s. It is unclear whether O’Connor’s offbeat short stories may be referenced in Wildcat, or how her struggle with the autoinflammatory illness lupus will play into the story. 

While the Hawke family are taking center stage in this feature film, they are supported by a long list of Oscar nominees and talented industry names. These include: Laura Linney (You Can Count on Me), Philip Ettinger (First Reformed), Rafael Casal (Blindspotting), Steve Zahn (White Lotus), Cooper Hoffman (Licorice Pizza), Willa Fitzgerald (Reacher), Alessandro Nivola (The Many Saints of Newark) and Vincent D’Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket)

Indiewire has comments from Ethan Hawke, made when he shared some images of the preliminary production on Instagram. He wrote: 

“Maya has been working hard for years to put this project together, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to introduce a new generation of filmgoers to the genius of Flannery O’Connor. Her work explores themes important to all artists — the intersection of creativity and faith, the blurred relationship between imagination and reality.”

Ethan and Maya Hawke previously worked together as actors on the limited series The Good Lord Bird.Wildcat will be the first production in which Maya acts under Ethan’s direction. 

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