Wildcat: What We Know About Ethan Hawke’s Flannery O’Connor Biopic

Film News

Flannery O’Connor is considered by some to be one of the best American writers of the 20th century thanks to her sardonic voice, Southern Gothic stylings, and a wide range of characters, both beautiful and grotesque. At some point soon, those not all too familiar with the Georgia novelist, essayist, and short-story writer will get to learn more about O’Connor and her complicated life with Ethan Hawke’s Wildcat.

The upcoming biopic from the actor-turned-filmmaker will see Stranger Things standout Maya Hawke take on the role of the controversial writer in a unique biographical drama diving into not only her relatively short life but also her most famous works. Here’s everything we know about Wildcat… 

What Is The Wildcat Release Date?

Ethan Hawke and Maya Hawke

(Image credit: Variety)

We don’t yet know when Wildcat will be released, but Deadline has reported that Oscilloscope, which acquired North American rights in January 2024, plans to start the rollout as early as this spring. If that ends up being the case, we could expect to see Ethan Hawke’s directorial follow-up to Blaze, another biographical drama, as early as March.

Wildcat has been ready to go for several months and the film had its premiere in September 2023 at the 50th Telluride Film Festival, which was then followed by a showing at the Toronto International Film Festival. Expect to hear much more about the film’s theatrical release in the coming weeks. 

Maya Hawke Leads The Wildcat Cast As Flannery O’Connor

robin in the car with steve on stranger things season 4

(Image credit: Netflix)

When Wildcat opens on the big screen later this year, it will be one of the rare occasions where an actor or actress’ performance is directed by their famous parent, as Maya Hawke leads the upcoming biopic as its focus, Flannery O’Connor. The younger Hawke told Variety in September 2023 that while she had “moments of insecurity” about how people would react to landing the starring role in her dad’s film and being a “nepo baby,” she and her father wanted to work together and “like being with each other.”

In addition to having Maya Hawke at the top of the list, Wildcat will also feature a tremendously talented ensemble consisting of established stars and up-and-coming talent. Back in January 2023, Variety reported that Laura Linney, Philip Ettinger, Rafael Casal, Steve Zahn, Vincent D’Onofrio, Alessandro Nivola, Willa Fitzgerald, and Cooper Hoffman, the son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, would all show up in some capacity in the upcoming biographical drama 

Wildcat Focuses On Flannery O’Connor As She Returns To The South After A Stint In New York

Flannery O'Connor speaking in FLANNERY

(Image credit: Long Distance Productions)

One of the greatest struggles an artist can face is going back home after moving away to start a new life on their own, and according to Vanity Fair, Wildcat will tackle that in its story about Flannery O’Connor. The movie centers on the Southern Gothic writer as she returns to her Georgia home after her first stint in New York where she worked on her first novel. Gone are her writer friends and the freedom of the Big Apple and now she is left to face the cruelty of the South and her own mortality after being diagnosed with lupus, the very disease that caused her father’s death some years earlier.

By the way it sounds, Wildcat will very much be a biographical drama about the struggles O’Connor faced during her short life, both as an artist and a patient dealing with a disease that causes their immune system to attack their body.

The Movie Will Also Bring Several Of Flannery O’Connor’s Stories To Life

Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke in Moon Knight's mental institution

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Wildcat is a biographical drama but it will also take a unique approach with what sounds like a genre-bending experience that takes the biopic in a different direction. In addition to focusing on Flannery O’Connor’s life, career, and death, the film will also bring to life several of the late writer’s most well-known stories. According to the Telluride Film Festival, where it premiered in September 2023, the movie will dramatize scenes from stories like “The Life You Save May Be Your Own,” “Revelation,” “Good Country People,” and “Everything that Rises Must Converge,” and incorporate them into O’Connor’s life.

When Deadline wrote about Oscilloscope acquiring the rights for Wildcat in January 2024, it described the film that blurs the lines between reality, imagination, and faith as O’Connor begins to explore her craft and her own place in the world around her. In a statement provided to the outlet, the distributor’s president, Dan Berger, said the movie is an “inventive and unique” look at an artist that was “inventive and unique.”

Ethan Hawke Co-Wrote The Movie With Longtime Collaborator Shelby Gaines

Ben Dickey in Blaze

(Image credit: IFC Films)

Over the years, Ethan Hawke has worked extensively with musician, composer, and writer Shelby Gaines on everything from the former’s Off-Broadway revival of A Life of the Mind to the 2018 music biopic, Blaze. That partnership continued with Wildcat, as Hawke and Gaines shared a screenwriting credit for the forthcoming biographical drama that was inspired by Maya Hawke’s Juilliard audition.

In a September 2023 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Ethan Hawke recalled how Maya delivered a monologue from Flannery O’Connor’s A Prayer Journal, which she then attempted to adapt after debuting on Stranger Things. But as the process went on and he met with Joe Goodman, the rights holder of O’Connor’s work, the Before Sunrise star saw something bigger saying,

I saw a huge opportunity in what [Goodman] possessed in that you could actually use Flannery’s letters and her stories and her own writing to make a portrait of her, to let her tell her own story,

After this, Hawke started to work with Gaines on the script and the two ironed it out to create a portrait of the artist, her work, and her complicated life.

How Long Is Wildcat?

Maya Hawke in Mainstream

(Image credit: IFC Films)

We don’t exactly know when Wildcat is coming out, but we do know that the movie has a runtime of 108 minutes. This information comes from the movie’s page from the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival. This could very well change if the movie has to make any cuts for a rating ahead of its theatrical release, so make sure to check back for more information in the coming weeks and months.

We should know more about Wildcat very soon, but in the meantime don’t forget to check out the rest of the 2024 movie schedule to see what else is coming to the big screen this year.

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