UPDATE: Along with her production shingle news, Jessica Chastain is in early talks to star in Molly’s Game, playing the title role in the Aaron Sorkin-directed adaptation of Molly Bloom’s memoir that Mark Gordon is producing with Amy Pascal.
EXCLUSIVE: Jessica Chastain has launched Freckle Films, a new production venture, and inked a first look overhead deal with Trudie Styler and Celine Rattray’s transatlantic financing-production banner Maven Pictures. The two companies have already optioned two books: The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister and Camille Pagan’s novel, Life and Other Near-Death Experiences.
The Magician’s Lie tells the story of a famous female illusionist named Ada, who is suspected of killing her husband after the dead body of a man is found inside of one of her stage props. A young police officer, Virgil Fecht, manages to track down the female magician and take her into his custody. Over the course of one night, Ada must recount her life story in order to prove her innocence.
In Life and Other Near Death Experiences, Libby Miller discovers she has an aggressive form of cancer and that her husband, Tom, is secretly gay on the same day. Libby immediately drops everything in her life, including Tom, and takes a trip to Puerto Rico where she meets a man named Shiloh, who gives her a new perspective on life and getting treatment.
Chastain will serve as president of Freckle Films alongside development exec Elise Siegel. Maven was founded by Celine Rattray (The Kids Are All Right) and Trudie Styler (Still Alice) along with Charlotte Ubben. Maven will provide development funds and cover overhead costs to acquire IP for Freckle and Maven to jointly produce. Jacqui Lewis, Leili Gerami, Clemens Pongratz and Elise Siegel will serve as exec producers on these films.
“I’m excited to launch Freckle Films, and I can’t imagine a better production partner than Maven Pictures,” said Chastain. “Trudie and Celine are not only both highly experienced and successful producers, but the projects they’ve created demonstrate their tenacious dedication to strong characters and compelling stories that clearly resonate with audiences. It’s an honor to work with them, as well as their company, one that mirrors many of the goals that I aspire to achieve with Freckle Films.”
“Trudie and I have always been great admirers of Jessica both on screen and off,” said Maven’s Celine Rattray. “Her intelligence, passion, and talent are something that so naturally align with our work and mission at Maven Pictures—showcasing female talent both in front of and behind the camera. We are immensely thrilled about the opportunity to work together for many years to come.”
It’s all go-go-go for Maven at the moment. The company has rising Brit actress Bel Powley starring in Fritz Bohm’s Wildling alongside Liv Tyler, who also co-produces. Wildling is an elevated horror tale in the vein of vampire pic Let The Right One In. The story centers on young Anna (Powley), who spends her entire childhood in a single room under the care of a mysterious man (Brad Dourif) she only knows as “Daddy.” He makes her fear the “Outside” by telling her of the “Wildling,” a creature with sharp teeth and claws who roams about eating little children. The film, which is being sold by IM Global internationally and UTA domestically, debuted some promo footage at Berlin’s EFM, which was greeted enthusiastically by buyers.
Trudie Styler is also making her directorial debut with the film adaptation of James St. James’ bestseller Freak Show with Bettle Midler, Alex Lawther, AnnaSophia Robb, Ian Nelson and Lorraine Toussaint on board, which tells the story of Billy Bloom, a funny, good-hearted, cross-dressing teen who becomes the new student at an ultra-conservative high school. Although accosted with Bible thumpers, the jocks, and the bullies, Billy takes a stand. Determined to be who he is and not bow to peer pressure, he refuses to change his outlandish outfits or behavior. Instead, he decides to run for Homecoming Queen for outcasts and underdogs everywhere.
Maven also recently wrapped on Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, starring Shia Labeouf,
Jessica Chastain has also been prolific. She is in talks to star in Woman Walks Ahead with Susanna White (Generation Kill) directing, based on the true story of Catherine Weldon, a widowed Brooklyn artist who, in June 1889, traveled to the Standing Rock Reservation in Dakota Territory to help Sitting Bull hold onto land that the government was trying to wrest from his people.
She is also in pre-production on John Madden’s gun violence drama Miss Sloane. She recently wrapped Diane Ackerman’s novel The Zookeeper’s Wife opposite Daniel Brühl and will next be seen alongside Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt in The Huntsman: Winter’s War for Universal. Chastain previously produced indie film The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them, Her, + Him along with the Weinstein Co.
Chastain is repped by CAA and Mosaic.