Amy Adams has signed on to star in the Ron Howard helmed Netflix film Hillbilly Elegy. Based on the New York Times best-selling memoir of the same name by venture capitalist J.D. Vance, the film is described as a modern exploration of the American Dream that chronicles three generations of an Appalachian family through the eyes of its youngest member, a Yale Law School graduate forced to return to his hometown.
The film has been in development since 2017 when Ron Howard and co-owner Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment secured the rights to adapt Vance’s memoir for the big screen. Soon after, Imagine Entertainment hired Oscar-nominated The Shape of Water screenwriter Vanessa Taylor to adapt the book into a script, and following a heated bidding war earlier this year, Netflix picked up Hillbilly Elegy in a cool $45 million deal.
Shooting was expected to start later this year and now Variety is reporting that Amy Adams is set to star in Hillbilly Elegy, and it looks like the production is finally moving forward. Alongside Howard directing and Vanessa Taylor on screenwriting duties, Adams joins others attached to the film including Karen Lunder who will produce and Julie Oh and J.D. Vance who are on board as executive producers.
What role Adams will play in Hillbilly Elegy isn’t known just yet, but the casting comes on the tail of several successful projects for the actress including her Oscar-nominated performance as Lynne Cheney in Vice and her Golden Globe-nominated role in the HBO miniseries Sharp Objects, which was without a doubt one of 2018’s best TV shows. Adams has also recently signed on to star in Darkest Hour director Joe Wright’s The Woman in the Window and Disenchanted - the sequel to 2007’s Enchanted, in which she’ll reprise her role as Princess Giselle. Ron Howard’s last big project was, of course, Solo: A Star Wars Story, which, despite underperforming at the box office, was warmly received by critics.
With the talents of Adams, Howard, and Taylor on board, Hillbilly Elegy could shape up to be a quality film. Considering the trio are no strangers to the Oscars, perhaps Hillbilly Elegy could even be destined for the kind of greatness of another Netflix film, the multi-Academy Award-winning Roma. Predicting possible Oscar glory for Hillbilly Elegy may be a little premature, however. The film is still in the early stages and beyond the current debate about whether Netflix movies should even be Oscar-eligible, there may be something else standing in the way of Hillbilly Elegy’s path to success.
Though Vance’s memoir was a bestseller and got plenty of rave reviews, many critics objected to how his rags-to-riches tale promoted a "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" mentality for the working class that overlooks the historic and social circumstances that may lead to working class poverty. Having said that, Howard has experience in adapting real-life stories for the big screen and in the process creating movies with a lot of heart - see Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, or Rush for proof - and Adams is an actress of obvious talent. With Howard and Adams’ sensitive handling, Hillbilly Elegy the film might just sidestep the criticism Hillbilly Elegy the book got.