Playing an iconic person is already daunting for most actors. But to take on the same person as another actor in a competing film is even more of a challenge. Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett Johannson are going to do just that, with each of the stunning actresses set to play Zelda Fitzgerald. The real Zelda had an interesting life as a socialite, novelist, and wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Once Zelda reached her forties, her mental illnesses including schizophrenia began to take hold, leaving her confined in hospitals away from her husband and daughter. The novelist died in a hospital fire when she was 47 which was 8 years after the death of F. Scott.
Lawrence has played real people in the past with American Hustle and Joy. Though those two people were not as iconic or as well-known in popular culture, making her performance as Zelda opens her to possible criticism. On the other hand, Lawrence has yet to make a misstep in her acting. And tends to avoid being miscast by embodying everyone she plays completely. The Lawrence film will be directed by Ron Howard which gives the biopic an extra boost of credibility.
Zelda Fitzgerald Biopic Casting(s)
Johannson's film has yet to announce a director. Lawrence nor Johannson share any physical resemblance to the real Zelda, making the competing film prove their value through performances, storytelling and production value. Similarly 2005's Capote starred Phillip Seymour Hoffman while 2006's Infamous starred Toby Jones, and both films told the (same) story of novelist Truman Capote while he was writing his novel In Cold Blood. In that case, it was Capote who won the race and the Academy Awards.
Zelda Fitzgerald has been portrayed many times by talented actresses. Natasha Richardson portrayed her in the 1993 made-for-television movie, Zelda. In Wood Allen's love letter to the 1920s Midnight in Paris, Allison Pill expertly portrayed the colorful but troubled Zelda opposite Tom Hiddleston as F. Scott Fitzgerald. Most recently, Christina Ricci has stepped into Zelda's flapper dress for the Amazon series, Z: The Beginning of Everything.
The filmmakers for both films have plenty of material, as Zelda had a full but short life. Hopefully, there will be enough room for both films to shine as bright as she did.