In an article written by actor-director Ethan Hawke for Variety, the Oscar nominee opened up about his next feature directorial project in the form of Wildcat, which is a biographical drama film about the life of Southern writer Flannery O’Connor.
Hawke shared that it was his daughter Maya Hawke who introduced the idea of making the biopic, as the Stranger Things star has been a long-time fan of O’Connor’s works since she was young. “Maya approached me with the idea of making a film about O’Connor, and my heart soared,” he wrote. “Immediately, I saw O’Connor’s spiritual journey as a perfect opportunity to create a film about the intersection of faith, imagination, and creativity.”
Ethan Hawke Addresses Controversy Surrounding Flannery O’Connor
However, the Gattaca star’s enthusiasm for the project was met with a challenge when he read the 2020 article by The New Yorker, exposing O’Connor as a racist. Hawke admitted that he doubted if it was right for them to continue making the film. “I called Maya to talk over whether we should make this film,” he said. “Is there a place in today’s cultural climate to tell the story of an American genius who also displayed abhorrent prejudices?”
After having conversations with artists, friends, colleagues, and experts, as well as in-depth research into other scholars’ opinions regarding O’Connor’s relationship with race, Hawke was able to see O’Connor as an “immensely complex human being,” who “grew as a knotty but extremely important subject for exploration.”
In the end, Hawke ultimately decided to move forward with the project “out of our [their] love for the work, and for the genius — the flawed, human, paradoxical genius — who authored it,” He continued. “We hope that this film can be a step on the way forward.”
Wildcat is directed and produced by Ethan Hawke from a screenplay he co-wrote with Shelby Gaines. Besides Ethan and Maya Hawke, the film also stars Laura Linney (Ozark), Alessandro Nivola (The Many Saints of Newark), Vincent D’Onofrio (Daredevil), Philip Ettinger (First Reformed), Steve Zahn (White Lotus), Rafael Casal (Blindspotting), Cooper Hoffman (Licorice Pizza), and Willa Fitzgerald (Reacher) have also joined the biographical drama.
It is produced by Joe Goodman, Ryan Hawke, Cory Pyke, Kevin Downes, Jon Erwin, and Daryl Lefever. Executive producers are Eric Groth and David Kingland of Renovo Media Group, who are also serving as financers.