Joy writer reflects on 'heartbreaking' script changes: ‘It was tremendously scary and a life lesson’
Annie Mumolo opened up about her experience working on the film.
Bridesmaids writer Annie Mumolo opened up for the first time about her experience on the movie Joy and what she describes as the "heartbreaking" and "tremendously scary" experience working on the film.
Mumolo received an Oscar nomination for her work on Bridesmaids in 2012 before 20th Century Fox (now 20th Century Studios) picked up her biographical film about Miracle Mop creator Joy Mangano, eventually played by Jennifer Lawrence in Joy. By the end of the process, Mumolo only received a "story by" credit, which she won in arbitration and shared with director David O. Russell. Russell received the sole screenplay credit. It wasn't until a recent interview with Variety pegged to her new movie with Kristen Wiig, Barb and Star, that she spoke in more depth on the matter.
"Oh boy. That was a toughie," Mumolo began. "It's a tough business. Kristen and I have learned that if you can get in the position where you can produce your own stuff and have a voice…Everything that happened with Joy and the making of the actual movie is a movie in itself. I don't know what I'm allowed to say."
According to a report by The Hollywood Reporter that was published in 2015, Mumolo was hired to write the script for Joy and potentially direct. Wiig was reportedly mulling over starring in the lead role. As the report goes, the studio allegedly wasn't happy with the script and that's when Russell came on for writing and directing duties.
Also in 2015 came an article from Vanity Fair featuring quotes from Elizabeth Gabler, then the head of Fox 2000, the division of Fox that released the film. Gabler said at the time that Mumolo's treatment had "a kind of comedic style of writing" to it and she felt the movie "needed to be much more of an emotional and all-encompassing story." Regarding Mumolo's shared "story by" credit with Russell that the Writers Guild of America awarded her, Gabler said, "It's extremely significant that he did get sole [screenplay] credit, and the reason is because he didn't rewrite her screenplay. There are definitely events that took place in [Joy's] life that anyone that would research her life would find. But their interpretation is completely David's original."
A rep for Russell did not immediately respond to EW's request for comment on Mumulo's recent statements.
"Having worn both hats, the writer's hat and the actor's hat, they are such night and day experiences," Mumolo told Variety. "As a writer, you're treated very differently than you are as an actor, in almost every way. I feel like it's exponentially harder for that reason alone. The Joy movie was a very heartbreaking experience for me, and I had to just sort of separate because of that aspect of things. When it was going in one direction, we got a phone call overnight that there's a change happening. And then I was asked to do things that were against my morality, and it was very difficult. When I didn't feel comfortable doing those things that were against my values, I was lambasted. I can't say too much. I guess probably because I was living in fear."
She continued, "It's sort of a testament to the power of how in show business, people have a tremendous amount of power and what they can do with it and how they wield that power. Sometimes, the people who have so much power are people who shouldn't, and in the normal world, they wouldn't have that much power they're being given. Judd Apatow told me, 'Certain names, if they are studios, if it's money and numbers, they don't care what the behavior is. They just don't.' And he said that's a hard thing. He was a very big advocate for me back then. It was tremendously scary and a life lesson. It was a lot of upheavals, and it was just very strange. It's something I never saw coming."
Mumolo explained how difficult it is to speak up for yourself. "I had many people approaching me at the time to come out and say things or talk about it. But then it was, 'Oh no, you can't because you won't get hired. You might not get hired again because you'll be perceived as being "difficult."' I just kind of had to swallow it. It's just one of those things about the writer's position."