The 2015 biographical comedy-drama Joy starring Jennifer Lawrence was a largely forgetful affair. But the drama that went on behind the scenes would have made for its own fascinating feature in the ways Hollywood operates. Annie Mumolo was hired to write the script for the movie, based on a true story. But once director David O. Rusell of Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle fame joined the project, Mumolo found herself being shunted to the side. In an interview with Variety, Mumolo explained why the entire affair has become a heartbreaking memory.
“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. 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.”
In the end, the screenplay credit was given to David O. Russell, while Mumolo had to share a “story by” credit with him as well. The whole incident is yet another example of the manner in which Hollywood treats its writers as second-class citizens. Mumolo recovered from the experience and is currently gearing up for the release of her new comedy Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, which Annie Mumolo co-produced, co-wrote and co-stars in with Kristen Wiig. Still, Mumolo has not forgotten about the way she was treated by the Joy production team, and the fact that she was then encouraged to keep quiet about the whole thing to protect her career.
“You almost can’t talk about certain things, which is sad as a writer because anytime you speak up for yourself, people warn you, “You better not do that, fake people won’t want to work with you,” and you’re just defending your basic human rights. 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.”
Directed by Josh Greenbaum, from a script written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar features Annie Mumolo, Kristen Wiig Jamie Dornan, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Damon Wayans Jr. This news first broke at Variety.