Blake Lively’s girl drama cost her a job
And I’m not down with that.
Last week we talked about Blake Lively’s involvement in Steven Soderbergh’s new movie and how her casting as the lead caused a producer, the one with the money, to walk off the project. Click here for a refresher. The other producers then came out and said that Lively did not have the job in the bag after all and now today it’s being reported that the role went, in fact, to Rooney Mara.
Leave aside for the moment the automatic gagging response you have to Mara bringing her ALOOFNESS to a Soderbergh movie and just consider what has happened. This is what I said at the time: “He shouldn’t have to recast a part because a co-financer took exception to a decision he made before that producer was even involved.” Soderbergh is not a journeyman director you hire on to a project you’ve already assembled. He’s a man with a specific vision of HIS film that HE is making. And while Mara’s ALOOFNESS is obnoxious as all get out, I do think she’s a good actress—a better actress than Blake Lively. But she wasn’t the actress Soderbergh wanted. I don’t like that Lively lost a job due to some girl sh*t.
It goes back to Megan Ellison, the producer from Annapurna Pictures who withdrew funding over Lively’s presence in the film. She came onto the project after Lively was tapped for it. She knew Lively was on board and Ellison got involved anyway and only then objected to the casting. I certainly don’t argue with anyone who doesn’t think Lively is not a good actress -- don’t think Lively is a good actress (to be fair, I’ve seen her be varying degrees of not-horrible) -- but who am I to question Steven Soderbergh? The man made Jennifer Lopez look good in Out of Sight. Who knows what he could have done with Lively, given that she’s working very hard to prove herself these days?
It reeks of girl sh*t, and coincidentally, I was just talking about girl sh*t with a friend this morning. We were wondering why some women get a pass and others don’t. I said it’s arbitrary and we all have favorites and un-favorites and we judge accordingly. Sometimes, though, we’re near-united in our distaste for someone. For example, Blake Lively, and also, most of us are not fond of Rooney Mara, either. So who do we cut more slack in this situation? The pop tartlet no one likes or the serious AC-TOR no one likes? Frankly I’m willing to cut them both slack. This wasn’t fair to Lively, who won the role only to lose it because one person didn’t like her—and that person was NOT the director—but it’s not fair to drag Mara into it with chants of, “Ugh I hate her, too!”
I think this is a situation where we need to put aside our biases and say that this is largely unfair to both women and instead of name calling and eye-rolling, we’re going to sympathize that it was a sucky break for Blake and a tainted win for Rooney. I continue to side-eye Ellison for starting this by objecting to casting she knew about before she got involved. Today is a day when I’m just not down with the girl drama. Today is a day when I want to be nice to both girls and forget for a moment that I don’t like them. This is beyond Blake v. Rooney. This is interfering with a filmmaker’s vision because Girl X doesn’t like Girl Y for Z reason, which has nothing to do with the director choosing Girl Y in the first place. Mara is a fine actress, so this is not against her, but Soderbergh’s vision is already one-off from where it was yesterday. And for movies in general, now we know directors can be bullied like this.
Projects come together and fall apart all the time, often several times before they get made, but usually due to scheduling, someone ages out of a role, the script takes a turn that someone else doesn’t like, a financier goes under and your financing falls apart—“girl drama” is not a natural cause for a financing shake up like this. Ellison has set a scary precedent, that one producer’s pique is enough to fundamentally alter a project, even against the filmmaker’s wishes. Movies are a team effort—you think everyone is happy all of the time? No, of course not. Sometimes you swallow a bitter pill to get the movie made, and the director is the last person who should be faced with that since it’s his story to tell in the first place. Blake Lively was Megan Ellison’s bitter pill. And she force-fed it to Steven Soderbergh instead.
Attached - Rooney Mara in Japan with David Fincher promoting The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo For America.