Julia Stiles, who re-emerged with a great supporting turn in "Silver Linings Playbook," has signed on to play screenwriter Frances Marion--the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay--in Jennifer DeLia's "The First," based on Eileen Whitfield's biography on Mary Pickford, "Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood." Marion's Oscar was for "The Big House" in 1930. Pickford was muse to Marion during their collaborations, including “Rebecca from Sunnybrook Farm” and “Poor Little Rich Girl.”
Other characters in the film will include Douglas Fairbanks, D.W. Griffith, and Lillian Gish. Lily Rabe is set to play Pickford, and "Boardwalk Empire"'s Michael Pitt is set to play Owen Moore. Julie Pacino is producing with Said Zahraoui and Dominick Fairbanks; she'll shopping the film at Berlin with Poverty Row's Billy Bates.
Last November DeLia told Indiewire, "I didn't know that Pickford was the pioneer that she was and that she had the journey from childhood that she had. I knew she was a silent screen legend and the first movie star. I didn't realize that she had helped make Hollywood culture as a fierce businesswoman." She adds, "[Pickford's] journey of going from the 'unsophisticated' world of vaudeville to working with D.W. Griffiths as he experimented with the language of cinema makes this a universal story. It's more complicated than a simple profile of America's Sweetheart. She was constantly ahead of the game." Here's more.
More details on "The First" below:
THE FIRST will delve into Pickford’s life from a woman’s point of view and will illuminate the artistry, spirituality, and integrity that moved Mary Pickford through the ground-breaking and controversial world of her time. From 1892 through to her passing in 1979, Pickford was the powerhouse who, along with Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and D. W. Griffith, created their own distribution company, United Artists, which was designed to serve the filmmakers rather than the studio heads. Known as ‘America’s Sweetheart,’ ‘Little Mary,’ and ‘The Girl with the Curls,’ the Canadian-born Pickford was one of silent film’s most important performers and had international fame that reached heights never seen before, as for the first time, an idol emerged from moving images or ‘cinema.’ She was the biggest and most beloved movie star of the time; she was the face of the American Military; she was one of the 36 co-founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; and she was an activist. She fulfilled missions that no one else in her time could have and no one since her could even imagine.