Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins discussed her journey and experience working on the box-office hit during The Hollywood Reporter‘s Director Roundtable, alongside Guillermo del Toro, Angelina Jolie, Denis Villeneuve, Joe Wright and Greta Gerwig.
“My story to get in [to Warner Bros.] was a long story because I had first talked to them about it in like 2005, and there were so many different chapters of why they were and when they weren’t going to make it. I feel it’s more like dating that it is like ‘buy my pitch.’ It’s serious, it’s a serious commitment,” she said.
“It’s the biggest advice I ever give young filmmakers is pick the right projects and take it seriously because you don’t want to end up in a bad marriage. You don’t want to be idealistic and be like ‘I can change their minds,” maybe you can’t and if you can’t you’re on that ride,” Jenkins added. “It was a wonderful experience, I don’t think it’s always that way but because of the fact there was such clarity about what we were doing going in.”
The film made more than $800 million at the international box office, but has been largely missing from Golden Globe and SAG nominations, minus a SAG nod for best stunt ensemble.
Jenkins has built her career in smaller indie films, but was nominated for an Emmy in 2012 for directing AMC’s The Killing. Before finding superhero success, though, she revealed she thought of leaving the industry.
“There was a period of time, not long before I made Wonder Woman, that the bottom had fallen out of the indie film market completely so the films I had ready to go no one wanted to make, they didn’t even want to read them. There was a period of them there where I was like ‘ugh, I just want to leave Hollywood,'” Jenkins said. “It’s ironic that I turned around and made Wonder Woman but at the moment I was like this may not be for me, maybe I need to move to Europe or something because I don’t know how to fit myself into this.”
The director also revealed her approach to getting the best out of her actors, saying that she never pushes anyone “to inflict trauma.”
“My job as a director is to conjure the best out of other people within what they have already to work with and maybe new scenarios,” Jenkins said. “I’ve heard about those things like lying to people or really tricking people or messing with them and that’s not cool for me, there’s a line in the sand of where I’m willing to go to bring beautiful things into the world, because how beautiful can they be?”
The full Director Roundtable airs on SundanceTV, Sunday, Jan. 21. Tune in to THR.com/roundtables for more roundtables featuring talent from the year’s top films.