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Emerald Fennell made her feature film directorial debut with Promising Young Woman, and on Monday, she earned her first Oscar nomination, becoming one of only seven women to ever earn a nomination in the directing category. The U.K.-based writer-director also earned noms for screenplay and best picture.
She hopped on the phone with THR soon after the nominations were announced to talk a little bit more about the film’s five nominations (including a best actress nomination for star Carey Mulligan) and her plans for what’s next.
What were you doing when the nominations were announced?
I planned to watch it, but I didn’t know that daylight savings time had happened in America, which meant the announcements were an hour earlier than I had known. I was actually on a Zoom meeting with someone, and then my phone started ringing and my husband burst in and said ‘It’s on!” So I had to leave the meeting, incredibly embarrassingly, with the words ‘I’m so sorry. I have to go. I think I might have just been nominated for an Oscar.” (laughs.) It’s truly once-in-a-lifetime amazing. In a weird way, I’m relieved that it was earlier, though I’m sad to have missed the first part, because I didn’t have that hour of pure terror, waiting.
Have you heard from Carey Mulligan and other members of your cast and crew?
Yes! Everyone who worked on this film is so amazing, and they all took a risk on it, frankly. They gave it a shot because they hoped it could be something. So today, when it happened, I feel just immense gratitude and pride. We made the film in 23 days – I’m just so grateful to them. Carey and I were screaming and sobbing and jumping on zoom. Fred Thoraval, the incredible editor, is working abroad, and he was asleep, so I called him and woke him up and said, “I’m so sorry but you really should wake up because you’ve been nominated for an Oscar.” I wish I could see everyone. It’s tough not being able to congratulate people in-person.
How does it feel to be nominated in the directing category with Chloe Zhao – the first time two women have ever been nominated in that category?
Chloe is so amazing and that film is so spectacular, so to be nominated alongside her and everyone else in that category is just completely wonderful. But also there were so many female directors this year who made such beautiful, brilliant, challenging, different films. And so I feel honored to be able to meet and talk to all of those women along this journey.
This was your feature film directorial debut. Do you know what you want to direct next?
I think after this I don’t know what to do! I think I just have to get some sort of harrowing drug addiction and a harem of boyfriends. I don’t know what to do, apart from go completely mad (laughs.). No, I’ve just finishing writing the next thing. I won’t show it to anyone until it’s done, and then hopefully someone will like it and I will get to make it. I miss people, and working with people. So, the fact that this film has made it hopefully possible to make another one, is so exciting.
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