Promising Young Woman star Carey Mulligan says she’s always excited to see scripts for films directed by women, because she knows the director probably had to overcome obstacles that men didn’t.
“I always know when I’m getting a script that’s being directed by a woman that it’s something to get excited about, because you can guarantee they’ve had to work eight times harder to get to the point where they’ve got a script that’s going out to actors,” Mulligan said Sunday, sitting beside Promising Young Woman writer-director Emerald Fennell.
“So it always feels like, okay, this is time to get excited, because you know that it’s had to pass, it’s had to run a gauntlet to get there.”
She added that it may be a generalization to say so, but that it’s probably fair to say that “in a majority of cases,” it’s true.
Promising Young Woman is one of the most celebrated and fascinating films at Sundance, but it’s hard to say why without giving away some fantastic twists. Mulligan says she was “a massive mixture of fascinated and thrilled” as she read the script.
“It’s so exciting to read good writing,” she said. “And then we met and I was just immediately in. It literally was the biggest no-brainer of my whole life.”
It’s probably safe to give away what’s in the trailer for the film, which premiered at Sundance on Saturday and goes wide April 17.
Mulligan plays a young woman who goes out to nightclubs and pretends to be so drunk she can’t stand, until “nice guys” comes to check on her. Sometimes they take her home, and realize she isn’t as helpless as they thought.
Fennell was inspired by, among others, Alfred Hitchcock and some of the female authors whose work he adapted, included Strangers on a Train author Patricia Highsmith. She aimed for a “soft and approachable” feel that lures the audience into an eye-popping story.
You can listen to our MovieMaker Interviews podcast with Mulligan and Fennell above, on your favorite podcast platform:
Here are some highlights of the episode, with timestamps:
2:15: Why Emerald Fennell considered making three different trailers for Promising Young Woman.
3:20: Why Promising Young Woman seems “soft and approachable.”
5:05: Carey Mulligan explains how she and Fennell met.
9:50: Carey Mulligan on her career choices: “In the last 10 years I haven’t done anything unless I couldn’t bear the idea of someone else doing it.”
13:30: Carey Mulligan explains why female-directed films tend to have built-in quality control: “I always know when I’m getting a script that’s being directed by a woman that it’s something to get excited about because you can guarantee they’ve had to work eight times harder to get to the point where they’ve got a script that’s going out to actors.”
16:20: Mulligan’s delight at the kinds of questions she isn’t asked about Promising Young Woman.
19:10: Emerald Fennell explains why Promising Young Woman is like a first date gone bad.