Director Greta Gerwig created history this year when she helmed the blockbuster film Barbie. She became the only solo female filmmaker to have a billion-dollar grossing film at the box office in history and is currently nominated for two Golden Globe awards for the film. The film also became the highest-grossing film of the year.
However, Geriwg began her career in the independent film scene and has steadily risen to be one of the favorite directors for cinephiles. Her films Frances Ha, Lady Bird, and Little Women have become classics in the making for many and she headlined the mumblecore movement. However, her first big breakthrough Greenberg reportedly made her depressed.
From Mumblecore to Barbiecore: Greta Gerwig’s Life And Career
Before she created history with Barbie, Greta Gerwig wanted to be a playwright. A resident of Sacramento, she moved to New York with dreams of studying musical theater but ended up studying at Barnard College with a degree in English and philosophy. She concentrated on acting when she did not get into any of the MFA programs for theater.
Gerwig gained notoriety for being the ‘it-girl’ in the mumblecore movement of films by directors such as Jay and Mark Duplass and Joe Swanberg. She had a writing and directing partnership with Swanberg and she co-wrote Hannah Takes the Stairs and co-directed Nights and Weekends. She also acted in these films.
Gerwig had her breakthrough in the critically appreciated but commercially panned Noach Baumbach film Greenberg. She starred along with Ben Stiller, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Rhys Ifans. This began her collaboration and relationship with director Baumbach, with whom she wrote and performed in Frances Ha, Mistress America, and White Noise.
Greta Gerwig made her solo directorial debut with Lady Bird, which won her the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical. She was also nominated for an Oscar for Best Director. Her next film was the period drama Little Women, which earned similar accolades. She then helmed this year’s blockbuster Barbie, foraying into mainstream territory.
Greta Gerwig Was Depressed After Greenberg’s Failure
When Greta Gerwig starred in Noah Baumbach’s 2010 romantic comedy-drama Greenberg, she believed that was her big foray into the mainstream. The film had Ben Stiller in the leading role and had stalwarts such as Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rhys Ifans, Brie Larson, and Dave Franco in the cast. It premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and competed for the Golden Bear Award, and it was also nominated for the Gotham Independent Film Awards. However, when released, it was a commercial failure.
Earning only $7.4 million against a $25 million budget, the film was one of the biggest commercial disappointments for the crew. Greta Gerwig mentioned in an interview with The Guardian much later that the box office verdict made her depressed and hopeless. She said,
“I was really depressed. I cried a lot. It was a hard year. I was 25 and thinking, ‘This is supposed to be the best time and I’m miserable.’ Looking back, I wish I had taken that time and written more, but it felt like acting was happening for me, and I went back to acting classes.”
However, the actress would soon bounce back and the film also marked the beginning of a long-term collaboration and romantic partnership with Noah Baumbach. They co-wrote the film Frances Ha, a film which was directed by Baumbach and starrer Gerwig in the leading role. The film put her on the map as a leading star.