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This story first appeared in the Dec 6. issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Move over, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. Another film starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper is headed to the big screen, and this one is shrouded in secrecy. Sources say CAA will begin quietly screening the Lawrence-Cooper pairing Serena for distributors in late November.
The Depression-era drama, directed by Danish helmer Susanne Bier, has been so long in the making (Lawrence and Cooper shot it in March 2012, right after Silver Linings and just as The Hunger Games was hitting theaters) that many have forgotten it exists. But project insiders say the film, which Bier has just finished editing, is generating frenzied interest from outlets including Fox Searchlight and The Weinstein Co. thanks to another powerful performance by Oscar winner Lawrence.
Still, it took Bier more than 18 months to finish the film, often a sign that a production is troubled.
“Actually, it was just the opposite,” says one insider. “There were no reshoots or anything like that. It was just a real precision edit because the story is about a woman’s descent into madness. And Susanne is a total perfectionist.” Like Lawrence, Bier is a recent Oscar winner (best foreign-language film in 2011 for In a Better World). But she was not the first director to stake a claim to Serena, based on Ron Rash‘s 2008 novel about a North Carolina timber baron and his ambitious wife.
Darren Aronofsky originally was attached to direct with Angelina Jolie starring. But Aronofsky and Jolie fell out, Bier boarded and cast then-rising stars Cooper and Lawrence as the ill-fated newlyweds. Todd Wagner, who financed the film through his and Mark Cuban‘s 2929 Productions, allowed Bier all the time she needed.
After Silver Linings, “We didn’t want to be the OK version of the Jennifer Lawrence-Bradley Cooper coupling,” says the insider. If the film sells, it could hit the 2014 festival circuit (Cannes and Venice have reached out) ahead of next year’s awards race.
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