HomeCultureEthan Hawke Takes Flannery O’Connor to the Big Screen

Ethan Hawke Takes Flannery O’Connor to the Big Screen

New biopic stars Maya Hawke as the Georgia-born writer and and tells the story of her struggling to publish her first novel.

“It’s the story of Flannery O’Connor, one of the most brilliant American writers,” is how Director Ethan Hawke describes his new film “Wildcat.” Premiering at the Telluride Film Festival last fall and hitting theaters for a limited release on May 3, the film is centered around a 24 year-old O’Connor who has been given a death sentence of lupus.

Scenes of O’Connor’s life and writing are woven with those from her short stories and some of her most memorable characters. Ethan’s daughter Maya Hawke plays O’Connor, Laura Linney plays her mother Regina, while Cooper Hoffman is Manley Pointer from “Good Country People” and Rafael Casal O.E. Parker from “Parker’s Back.”

“She had such big dreams and so much self doubt,” Maya said in a Collider interview about how she originally connected to O’Connor’s work. She and her dad read A Prayer Journal together, and she used parts of it as her monologue when she was applying to drama schools.

It’s been a longtime dream for the pair to bring O’Connor and her work to the screen, but this is no regular biopic. Ethan says the idea for the trailer was to give viewers an idea of the wild ride they’re in for. Humorous quips from O’Connor herself and those who critiqued her work (like her mother) are interspersed with her short stories in which the actors, including Maya and Linney, play multiple roles.

“Flannery O’Connor was really funny and really peculiar, so we were going to be really peculiar as well,” Ethan told Collider.

“Wildcat” was filmed in Kentucky, but it’s mostly set at Andalusia Farm in Milledgeville, Georgia, O’Connor’s respite after her lupus diagnosis and where she wrote some of her most famous work. See five Flannery O’Connor sites of interest around Milledgeville here. Andalusia is open for public tours, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where O’Connor and her mother attended mass every morning, still has a thriving congregation, and she’s buried at Memory Hill Cemetery.

View all of our articles on O’Connor here, including an interview with Jessica Hooten Wilson, who recently brought the author’s previously unpublishable and unfinished third novel to life.

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