Back to IndieWire

Fran Walsh Steps Out

Fran Walsh Steps Out

You can’t watch Hitchcock without thinking what life would be like had Alma Reville, Hitchcock’s wife lived today.  From the film you see how much a partner she is in life (expected) and in work (unexpected).  She was a master editor and screenwriter and according to the film was the one who suggested the game changing use of music in the Psycho shower scene.  But she worked at a time when women were not in the spotlight and her contributions had been unknown to the public until resurrected by Sacha Gervasi and Helen Mirren in the recent movie.  Seeing Alma and Hitchcock on screen is one big reason to check out the film. 

Here’s what Gervasi says about Reville:

I think great iconic artists often have the limelight to themselves. There’s often, even today, unseen partners who make massive contributions, and I think our film acknowledges that. And I think that’s a wonderful thing to do, particularly in this sense because Alma was so brilliant. She was a brilliant artist in her own right.

Alma Reville would have been Kathryn Bigelow today. Absolutely.

But times, and the media, have changed and thankfully it is a bit harder to erase women’s contributions.  One such woman who has been mostly behind the scenes is Fran Walsh, multiple Oscar winner, and partner in life and work to Peter Jackson, director of Lord of the Rings and the upcoming The Hobbit.

A recent fascinating piece in the NY Times gave some insight into Ms. Walsh who has made a conscious decision to remain mostly unknown and private while Mr. Jackson is the one interviewed and the one the public focuses on in relation to their work.  She has writing and producing credits on his films and the article revealed that she and her best friend and writer Phillippa Boyens are the ones who start the writing process (in bed in their pajamas surrounded by dogs- sounds awesome) and Mr. Jackson is the one who rewrites and cuts. 

Her value to the work of Mr. Jackson is not to be underestimated or undervalued.  She was the one who came up with the idea for Heavenly Creatures and she was the one who started them on the track of getting involved in the case of the West Memphis Three (the documentary West of Memphis opens later this month).  She and Ms. Boyens are the ones who added a little bit of “feminine energy” to The Hobbit in the form of the Cate Blanchett character Galadriel because “both as storytellers and as women, [they wanted] to add a female character who could bring more emotional depth to the spectacle.”

The couple decided years ago that one of them would stay out of the spotlight so their kids could be able to go around town without being hassled and there is also the issue of the fact that Ms. Walsh is not interested in the spotlight because honestly, it can be so unforgiving espcially to women who don’t fit into the “girl” box.

But with this NY Times piece and the kids getting older, maybe Ms. Walsh is tiptoeing a bit more into the open air.  She clearly has a feminist sensibility and must realize how important it is for women to have role models who operate in the business successfully on their own terms.  I respect her desire to have a private life as everyone should be able to do even those in the film business, but it is as vital that women and men see her contributions and talent. 

Middle Earth’s Not So Silent Partner (NY Times)

How Hitchcock Rights a Hollywood Wrong (Hollywood Reporter)

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Features and tagged , , ,