EXCLUSIVE: The late Audrey Wells was a prolific screenwriter and director whose work focused on strong female characters, from 2003’s Under the Tuscan Sun and 1999’s Guinevere through to 2018’s The Hate U Give. That trend continued with Over the Moon, Netflix’s animated musical about based on a Chinese myth about a determined 14-year-old girl named Fei Fei who, coping with the loss of her mother, builds a rocket ship and blasts off, hoping to meet a mythical moon goddess.
Wells was brought on to pen the screenplay in March 2016; by that time she had already known that she had cancer and that the script would be her final work.
After a trip to China for inspiration she turned in a draft nine months later. Peilin Chou, the producer who brought Wells aboard the project, remembered weeping after reading it.
“She told me it was the most important script she had ever written,” Chou said. “It kind of took my breath away since I was such a lifelong fan of her films, and she had such an amazing and long history creating such powerful and dynamic female characters. Upon first reading, I became completely enraptured with Fei Fei (who would be voiced by Cathy Ang) and Chang’e (the moon goddess, voiced by Phillipa Soo). “Their beautiful parallel journeys of grief and healing that Audrey had crafted was so deeply moving.”
Over the Moon had been in development for about year when Wells told Chou about the diagnosis, and she urged Chou to get the film over the finish line.
“She shared that she had written Over the Moon as a love letter to her daughter Tatiana. She wanted Tatiana to know that even though they could not be together, that the love that they shared would last forever,” Chou says. “And she also wanted to leave behind these wonderful female role models of Fei Fei and Chang’e for Tatiana to look up to. Women that were smart, fierce, intelligent, emotional, and filled so purely with love.”
With Glen Keane aboard as director, the pic did make it. It was released in October 2020 and has been generating Oscar buzz ever since.
Read the script, which has received Producers Guild and Annie Award nominations, below: