Earlier this week, we reported that Jennifer Lawrence has signed on to play icon Zelda Fitzgerald in a Ron Howard-directed biopic titled Zelda. At the time we could think of no better actress to portray the troubled Jazz Age icon, but it looks as if Hollywood’s going to give us two options anyway. The Hollywood Reporter notes that Scarlett Johansson will star as Fitzgerald in a competing project titled The Beautiful and the Damned (a slight twist on the 1922 F. Scott Fitzgerald novel The Beautiful and Damned). It’s good to see that the time-honored tradition of “twin films” is still alive and well.
So, how can Johansson’s project hope to beat out a film that’s got Oscar winners Lawrence and Howard in its corner? Well, here’s how: Millennium Films, which is financing the project, has secured the cooperation of the Fitzgerald estate. With that cooperation comes a cache of newly unearthed transcripts from a sanatorium in which Zelda Fitzgerald was confined, the contents of which screenwriter Hanna Weg has undoubtedly worked into her script. The transcripts reportedly indicate that Zelda’s husband stole several of her ideas and used them in his own work, which would certainly recast how we view the couple that practically defined the Jazz Age.
In a statement, Millennium president Mark Gill suggested that the Johansson project will be anything but boring.
“It was the height of the Jazz Age, so you have all of that glamor and sophistication and living large. But you also have the massive drama of fly high, crash hard,” he said. “She was massively ahead of her time, and she took a beating for it. He stole her ideas and put them in his books. The marriage was a co-dependency from hell with a Jazz Age soundtrack.”
It’s hard to say which project sounds more enticing, but let’s not forget that there’s yet another darkhorse contender. Amazon has its own series, Z: The Beginning of Everything, starring Christina Ricci in the title role and set to be released February 2017. This is starting to look like a classic case of Too Many Zeldas.