THR's Women in Entertainment 2011: Power 100
It's been a busy year for Lewis, between in-house productions The Descendants, Stoker and The East. Lewis and her colleagues didn't miss a beat when Alexander Payne brought in Kaui Hart Hemmings' book and asked if Searchlight was interested in turning the novel into a film. "We immediately said yes, and then Alexander decided to direct it himself, which was a blessed joy for all of us," Lewis recalls.
Payne's Ad Hominem has an overall production deal with Searchlight, which released the filmmaker's critical darling and box office hit Sideways. (Lewis, 55, has known Payne since their days at UCLA's graduate film program.) Descendants is the first Searchlight pic starring George Clooney. "He's an incredibly intelligent, cool, charismatic person, and very focused. He and Alexander have a wonderful relationship," she says.
But what Lewis is most proud of is her varied slate. Stoker marks director Chan-wook Park's English-language debut and stars Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode and Dermot Mulroney. Shot in Nashville and written by former Prison Break star Wentworth Miller, the ensemble thriller centers on a young woman who loses her father and must contend with a mysterious uncle. The East, shot in Shreveport, La., is directed by Zal Batmanglij, an emerging filmmaker who first caught notice at Sundance with Sound of My Voice, and stars Ellen Page and Alexander Skarsgard. "The East is a really distinctive story," Lewis says. "These three films really represent the range of my tastes and Searchlight's tastes."
One funny coincidence: When Lewis went to Kauai to visit the set of Descendants, the cottage where Payne was shooting was the very same cottage she'd rented years before while on vacation. Lewis has been with Searchlight since Tom Rothman founded the division in 1994.
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