Greta Celeste Gerwig (//; born August 4, 1983) is an American actress and filmmaker. She first garnered attention after working on and appearing in several mumblecore films. Between 2006 and 2009, she appeared in a number of films by Joe Swanberg, some of which she co-wrote and/or co-directed, including Hannah Takes the Stairs (2007) and Nights and Weekends (2008).
Gerwig at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival
Greta Celeste Gerwig
August 4, 1983
Sacramento, California, U.S.
|Residence||Brooklyn, New York, U.S.|
|Alma mater||Barnard College|
|Partner(s)||Noah Baumbach (2011–present)|
Since the early 2010s, Gerwig has collaborated with her partner Noah Baumbach on several films, including Greenberg (2010), Frances Ha (2012), for which she received a Golden Globe Award nomination, and Mistress America (2015). She has also appeared in the films Damsels in Distress (2011), To Rome with Love (2012), Maggie's Plan (2015), Jackie (2016), and 20th Century Women (2016).
Gerwig's solo directorial ventures were the coming-of-age films Lady Bird (2017) and Little Women (2019). For the former, she received Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.
A native of Sacramento, California, Gerwig is the daughter of Christine (née Sauer), an OB-GYN nurse, and Gordon Gerwig, who worked for a credit union on small business loans. She is close to her parents and they make an appearance in Frances Ha as her character's parents. She has an older brother, a landscape architect, and sister, a manager at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She has German, Irish, and English ancestry, and was raised a Unitarian Universalist. She attended St. Francis High School, an all-girls Catholic school in Sacramento. She has described herself as having been "an intense child." She showed an early interest in dance, and had intended to complete a degree in musical theatre in New York, but ended up graduating from Barnard College with a degree in English and philosophy. Outside class, she performed in the Columbia University Varsity Show with Kate McKinnon.
2006–2009: Early career
Gerwig originally intended to become a playwright, but turned to acting when she was not admitted to playwriting MFA programs. In 2006, while still studying at Barnard, she was cast in a minor role in Joe Swanberg's LOL, and appeared in Baghead by Jay and Mark Duplass. She began a partnership with Swanberg, which resulted in the duo's co-writing Hannah Takes the Stairs (2007), and sharing both writing and directing duties on Nights and Weekends (2008). Through these films, she became known as a key figure in of the rising mumblecore film movement, often referred to as an "it girl". Although she had an association with a number of other mumblecore filmmakers and appeared in several films, mainstream success remained elusive.
Of this period in her life, Gerwig has said "I was really depressed. I was 25 [in 2008] and thinking, 'This is supposed to be the best time and I'm miserable' but it felt like acting was happening for me, and I went back to acting classes."
2010–2016: Mainstream success and recognition
In 2010, Gerwig starred in Noah Baumbach's Greenberg with Ben Stiller, Rhys Ifans, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. In an appraisal of her work in this and other films, The New York Times critic A. O. Scott described Gerwig as an "ambassador of a cinematic style that often seems opposed to the very idea of style." "She seems to be embarked on a project," Scott wrote, "however piecemeal and modestly scaled, of redefining just what it is we talk about when we talk about acting." In 2010, Gerwig made her first talk show appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. She later was cast as a lead in the HBO pilot The Corrections in 2011, which was not picked up to series. From 2011 to 2015, she voiced one of the main characters in the Adult Swim animated series China, IL.
In 2012, Gerwig appeared in the Woody Allen film To Rome with Love. However, while promoting Lady Bird, Gerwig came under scrutiny for her past work with Allen in 2018. On NPR's Fresh Air, hosted by Terry Gross, she was asked about working with him. Gerwig feared mispeaking about the subject stating, "I think I'm living in that space of fear of being worried about how I talk about it and what I say." She also side-stepped from a similar question after Lady Bird won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy by stating "(my) job right now I think is to occupy the position of writer and director." After being publicly criticized by Dylan Farrow for ignoring her allegations, Gerwig apologized for working with Allen. She elaborated in an interview with The New York Times, saying: "Dylan Farrow's two different pieces made me realize that I increased another woman's pain, and I was heartbroken by that realization. I grew up on his movies, and they have informed me as an artist, and I cannot change that fact now, but I can make different decisions moving forward."
Gerwig and Baumbach co-wrote his next film, Frances Ha, which was released in May 2013 after having toured the festival circuit since September 2012. Gerwig played the title role, and received a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical for her performance. Her third on-screen collaboration with Baumbach, Mistress America, was released in August 2015 to generally positive reviews. It holds score of 75 out of 100 at Metacritic and has an 82% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
In May 2014, Gerwig made her stage debut as Becky in Penelope Skinner's The Village Bike at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in New York. The show ran until the end of June. She was nominated for the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Actress for her performance. She was cast in the lead role in a spin-off of How I Met Your Mother titled How I Met Your Dad in 2014, but neither was picked up to series.
Gerwig's next starring role was in Rebecca Miller's Maggie's Plan, which premiered as an official selection of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, opening to positive reviews. The film was also screened at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and the 66th Berlin International Film Festival. That same year, Gerwig starred in Pablo Larraín's Jackie, and Mike Mills' 20th Century Women, earning acclaim for both performances, particularly her work in the latter, for which she earned a nomination for the Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Supporting Actress.
In 2016, she guest-starred in two episodes of the comedy series The Mindy Project.
2017–present: Critical acclaim and further success
In 2017, Gerwig made her solo directorial debut (after having co-directed Nights and Weekends) with the coming-of-age comedy-drama film Lady Bird, which she also wrote. The film's cast includes Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and Lois Smith. Lady Bird premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on September 1, 2017, was theatrically released on November 3, 2017 by A24, and grossed over $78 million against its $10 million budget worldwide.
Upon release, Lady Bird was met with widespread critical acclaim, with critics particularly lauding Gerwig's screenplay and direction. The film was chosen by the National Board of Review, the American Film Institute, and Time magazine as one of the top 10 films of 2017. According to the review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, it was given 196 positive reviews in a row, making it the record-holder for the most "fresh" reviews, until the first "rotten" one arrived in December 2017. It currently has a 99% rating on the aforementioned website.
At the 75th Golden Globe Awards, Lady Bird won Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Actress – Musical or Comedy for Saoirse Ronan, and also received nominations for Best Supporting Actress for Laurie Metcalf and Best Screenplay for Gerwig. At the 90th Academy Awards, it was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Gerwig, Best Actress for Ronan, and Best Supporting Actress for Metcalf. With the nominations announced, Gerwig had become the fifth woman in history to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director. When she found out about the nominations, Gerwig said she was "in various states of laughing and crying and yelling with joy."
In 2018, following the success of Lady Bird, Gerwig was part of the voice cast of Wes Anderson's stop-motion animated film Isle of Dogs, which premiered at the 68th Berlin International Film Festival to critical acclaim, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
In June 2018, it was announced that Gerwig would direct a new film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's novel Little Women, whose script she had been previously hired to write, with an ensemble cast including Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, and Meryl Streep. The film is scheduled to be released in December 2019 by Sony Pictures Releasing.
Gerwig's films tend to be based on her own experiences. In a behind-the-scenes video on the set of Lady Bird she said, "I tend to start with things from my own life, then pretty quickly they spin out into their own orbit." Gerwig presses her actors to incorporate who they are personally into their performances as well, and says of her writing and directing, "it's all about actors." In addition, she allows little line improvisation and the script is followed fairly closely.
Her works have common themes: the growth and emotional maturation of the leading woman, and relationships among family members, friends, and significant others, with a special interest in female dynamics. Characters are reportedly never villainized, and all are sympathetic. She tends to imbue her films with a unique and specific deadpan sense of humor. Visually they also carry a very specific atmosphere – simultaneously having the warmth of looking back on something in memory and displaying things as they are, stripped of any sort of showiness.
|2007||Hannah Takes the Stairs||Hannah||Also co-writer|
|2008||Nights and Weekends||Mattie||Feature directorial debut |
Also co-writer, co-director, and co-producer
|2008||Quick Feet, Soft Hands||Lisa||Short film|
|2008||I Thought You Finally Completely Lost It||Greta|
|2009||You Wont Miss Me||Bridget|
|2009||The House of the Devil||Megan|
|2010||Art House||Nora Ohr|
|2010||Northern Comfort||Cassandra||Also co-writer|
|2010||The Dish & the Spoon||Rose|
|2011||No Strings Attached||Patrice|
|2011||Damsels in Distress||Violet Wister|
|2012||To Rome with Love||Sally|
|2012||Frances Ha||Frances Halladay||Also co-writer|
|2014||The Humbling||Pegeen Mike Stapleford|
|2015||Mistress America||Brooke Cardinas||Also co-writer and co-producer|
|2015||Maggie's Plan||Maggie Hardin|
|2016||20th Century Women||Abigail Porter|
|2017||The Meyerowitz Stories||Victoria||Voice; Uncredited|
|2017||Lady Bird||N/A||Solo directorial debut|
Writer and director
|2018||Isle of Dogs||Tracy Walker||Voice|
|2019||Little Women||N/A||Writer and director|
|2011–15||China, IL||Pony Merks||Voice; 21 episodes|
|2012||The Corrections||Julia Vrais||Unaired HBO pilot|
|2014||How I Met Your Dad||Sally||Unaired CBS pilot|
|2015||Portlandia||Mermaid||Episode: "Doug Becomes a Feminist"|
|2016||The Mindy Project||Sarah Branum||2 episodes|
|2017||Saturday Night Live||Ms. Reynolds||Uncredited; Episode: "Saoirse Ronan/U2"|
Awards and nominations
In 2011, Gerwig won an award from the Athena Film Festival for her artistry as one of Hollywood's definitive screen actresses of her generation. In 2014, she was selected as a member of the jury for the 64th Berlin International Film Festival.
In 2018, her nomination for Best Director at the 90th Academy Awards for Lady Bird made her the first woman in eight years (and one of only five women in Oscar history) to have been nominated in that category. Gerwig's work on Lady Bird was nominated for sixteen awards in notable circuits, winning six of those awards.
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