As the star of this year’s unlikely Best Picture winner, CODA, it seemed like a given that Emilia Jones‘ profile was set to rise, and it is, as Jones has landed one of her highest-profile roles yet. Specifically, the actress is at the forefront of Winner, the latest film from director Susanna Fogel (The Spy Who Dumped Me), which is described as a darkly comedic look at the life and times of whistleblower Reality Winner. Production is underway, and it serves as a reunion for the director and star. They previously collaborated on the aforementioned Cat Person.
As Deadline reports, Winner follows its titular character as a bright, engaged young Texas misfit who finds her morals challenged during her time in the US Air Force, along with her later work as an NSA contractor. From there, this idealistic woman finds herself persecuted for standing up for her principles, particularly when she leaks sensitive nationwide information in the interest of exposing the nation’s top secret intel. Namely, after Winner exposed Russia’s interference with the 2016 presidential election, the government employee was sentenced to five and a half years in prison — which remains the longest sentence ever given to someone charged under the Espionage Act for unveiling a government article.
Based on Kerry Howley‘s 2017 New York Magazine feature, “Who Is Reality Winner?,” the upcoming coming-of-age story is described as a “fresh take on the traditional whistleblower thriller,” with what one might assume is a modern, more satirical lens compared to the usual, more intensive stories of this ilk that we have seen plenty of times before. It’ll be intriguing to see how Fogel mines humor from this type of material, particularly as it relates to Winner’s incarnation, though the writer-director has built a career from making character-focused dramedies that balance genres and tones. Along with directing this new film, Fogel also co-wrote Winner‘s adapted screenplay alongside Howley.
Along with Jones frontlining the picture, Winner will also feature the talents of Connie Britton and Zach Galifianakis as Reality’s mother and father, respectively. Additionally, Danny Ramirez will play the titular character’s boyfriend, while Kathryn Newton is attached to play Reality’s sister. Particularly with filming happening right now, we should continue to expect to hear more casting updates in the months to follow.
Fogel released a statement regarding this in-the-works project:
As a filmmaker, I strive to tell stories that interrogate the world we live in and the systems that are broken in it. But in a fun way. Reality Winner is the perfect heroine for a film that mediates on ideas of personal power, morality, and finding your voice. She’s a true individual: she speaks many languages, she loves her guns, she could destroy you on Twitter, and her obsession with Pikachu is unmatched. Clearly, she’s the perfect mouthpiece for a generation of people who are unique and fed up with feeling powerless. And there is no one more perfect to play her than Emilia Jones, one of the most exciting young actresses working today. I hope Reality’s story will inspire others to speak up and defend their beliefs, whatever the cost. I’m thrilled to partner with this team of artists and activists to bring this movie to life.
Joining Fogel as producers are Amanda Phillips, Shivani Rawat, and Julie Goldstein of ShivHans Pictures, along with Scott Budnick and Ameet Shukla of 1Community. It’s hard to know how a film like this will shape up, though it’s certainly one to keep an eye on as it moves forward, particularly since Jones has proven her talents a few times over. Not merely in CODA, but also in Netflix‘s Locke & Key, Brimstone, and High-Rise, to name only a few projects. Certainly, this promising project shouldn’t prove to be an exception, and we’ll keep you posted on the latest developments whenever they arise.
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