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‘Reminiscence’ Filmmaker Lisa Joy Thought About Pitching Script Under Male Name Due to Sexism

"I thought it would get more traction if I did it under a male name," said the "Westworld" co-creator.



Ben Rothstein

“Westworld” co-creator Lisa Joy has shown her flair for incorporating science-fiction with large-scale worldbuilding and her feature directorial debut, “Reminiscence,” seems no different. The film, set to debut in theaters and on HBO Max August 20, stars Hugh Jackman as Nick Bannister, a P.I. who uses an already-outdated technology to help customers eager to retreat back into their interior desires. But when his life is upended by a beautiful new client who is hiding quite a bit (a big ask in a world in which anyone can peek inside your brain), Joy sends Nick on a time-bending adventure that’s just as beholden to sci-fi ideas as it is to classic romantic tropes.

Though Joy has become a prominent creative in the industry, she’s been vocal about the challenges she’s faced as a woman. In a new interview for The Independent, she discusses starting her career when she was pregnant, and often the only woman in the writer’s room.

After “Westworld” was obtained by HBO and a fierce bidding war started for “Reminiscence,” Joy noticed how many people cited her ability to “write a man.” “Oftentimes [studios] would give me these ‘compliments’ that were basically like, ‘It’s so unique for a woman to be able to write a man,’ and I’d be like, ‘Why?” Joy said in the interview. “Is it so hard for a woman to imagine those lofty heights of intelligence and depth?”

Because of the sexism in the industry, Joy initially thought about sending out “Reminiscence” under a male pseudonym. “I thought it would get more traction if I did it under a male name. In the end, I opted not to do that, but I’ve definitely encountered a lot of bias and prejudice before in my career,” she said.

“Reminiscence” also stars Thandiwe Newton, Daniel Wu, Cliff Curtis, Angela Sarafyan, Natalie Martinez, and Marina de Tavira.

Joy’s debut was originally set for an April release, before moving to September and then back to August, where it first occupied an August 27 berth before moving up to August 20. Like the rest of Warner Bros.’ 2021 slate, the film will be available both in theaters and on HBO Max, all the better to facilitate an instant “Westworld” binge post-viewing.

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