Anne Hathaway has entered talks to headline Mudbound director Dee Rees' big screen adaptation of Joan Didion's 1996 political thriller novel, The Last Thing He Wanted. Reese is currently developing the Gloria Steinem drama An Uncivil War, with Carey Mulligan attached to star and production expected to get underway next month. Last Thing He Wanted has not yet been picked up for distribution but that should be changing sooner rather than later, now that the Oscar-winner Hathaway is onboard.
Rees broke out as a director with the feature length version of her short film Pariah, a coming of age drama about a young black lesbian from Brooklyn who struggles to embrace her true identity. The indie movie won multiple awards following its premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and catapulted Rees onto directing for TV shows like Empire and Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams. Mudbound, a historical drama that takes place in the Mississippi Delta shortly after WWII, is Rees' second non-documentary (not counting her TV movie Bessie) and has picked up four Academy Award nominations, including a nod for Rees for Adapted Screenplay.
Variety is reporting that Hathaway is in negotiations to star in The Last Thing He Wanted, with Rees attached to direct from an adapted screenplay written by relative newcomer Marco Villalobos. The project is based on Didion's book of the same name and revolves around Elena McMahon, a Washing Post reporter who quits her job to care for her ailing father only to inherit his job as an arms dealer for the U.S. government in Central America. Didion's novel takes place in the mid-1980s and Rees' film adaptation is described by its producers as "a thrilling story of one woman, alone and unrelenting in a race against time.”
While The Last Thing He Wanted will mark yet another project from Rees that takes place in the past, it will further allow the filmmaker to tip her toe into the pool of political thrillers for the first time. Rees' film will also be but the latest project from Hollywood to touch on the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s, following on the heels of 2016's Bryan Cranston-led The Infiltrator and last year's Tom Cruise vehicle American Made (themselves both inspired by true stories). At the same time, it sounds as though The Last Thing He Wanted aims to explore that event in history more directly and from a very different, female perspective than its predecessors did.
With The Last Thing He Wanted headed out to buyers at the 2018 Berlin Film Festival, it's not out of the question that Netflix could pick up the project. Several filmmakers have now returned to the streaming service following their initial collaborations, spurned on by the creative freedom afforded to them as part of Netflix's bid to rapidly expand its library of original content. Mudbound has brought the company newfound levels of critical respectability and The Last Thing He Wanted has the makings of another critical darling on paper. For fans of Rees' work, it's just encouraging to see that the filmmaker now has two movies in active development at once, following the six year break between Pariah and Mudbound.
The Last Thing He Wanted is currently in pre-production. We will bring you more details as the story develops.