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Lily Rabe to Play Mary Pickford in Untitled Biopic; Producers In Cannes to Cast Chaplin, Fairbanks, Griffith

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood May 17, 2012 at 4:01PM

While producers Julie Pacino, Jennifer DeLia, and Said Zahraoui are at Cannes to cement the rest of the casting for their untitled Mary Pickford film, they've found their leading lady in Lily Rabe (“All Good Things,” “American Horror Story” ). The film is based on Eileen Whifield's biography, "Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood."
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Lily Rabe
Lily Rabe

While producers Julie Pacino, Jennifer DeLia, and Said Zahraoui are at Cannes to cement the rest of the casting for their untitled Mary Pickford film, they've found their leading lady in Lily Rabe (“All Good Things,” “American Horror Story” and “Merchant of Venice" on Broadway). The Poverty Row Entertainment film is based on Eileen Whifield's biography, "Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood." Josh Fagin is adapting the screenplay.

The project is targeting an early 2013 shoot and will be the first feature film to explore Pickford's life and work, and looks to cast "new light on one of the most influential – and least understood – artists in the history of popular culture." The influential characters in Pickford's life that are yet to be cast are listed below, along with the synopsis.

- Charlie Chaplin – fellow actor/movie star; co-founder of United Artists; Douglas Fairbanks best friend
- Douglas Fairbanks – fellow actor/movie star and co-founder of UA; Mary’s second husband and true love
- Charlotte Hennessy – Mary Pickford’s mother and manager, who lived with her even as an adult
- Frances Marion – journalist, author, and screenwriter; Pickford’s best friend and collaborator
- D.W. Griffith – Mary’s first movie director, co-founder of UA

THE UNTITLED PICKFORD FILM 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, that 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.

This article is related to: CASTING WATCH, News, News, Biopics, Cannes Film Festival


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.