Greta Gerwig

Greta Gerwig

A uniquely soulful screen presence in numerous independent films, including many in the pared-down, character-driven "mumblecore" scene, Greta Gerwig graduated to leading roles in major independent films like "Frances Ha" (2012), as well as her own acclaimed filmmaking career with "Lady Bird" (2018) and "Little Women" (2019). Born Greta Celeste Gerwig in Sacramento, California she and her two siblings were raised as Unitarian Universalists by their father, a loan officer at a credit union, and their mother, an OB-GYN nurse. Though interested in dance, Gerwig studied English at Barnard College, and decided to pursue a master's degree in playwriting. But after finding no purchase at MFA programs for that discipline, Gerwig turned to acting. She had already appeared in two films by seminal "mumblecore" filmmakers Joe Swanberg (2006's "LOL") and Jay and Mark Duplass (the meta-horror film "Baghead," 2008). These experiences led to her own behind-the-scenes work with Swanberg, first as co-writer on "Hannah Takes the Stars" (2007) and later, as writer-director on "Nights and Weekends" (2008), a comedy about a romantically involved couple (Gerwig and Swanberg) who must overcome the challenges of a long-distance relationship. A natural performer with a gift for embodying the anxieties and pleasures inherent in the transition from college age to adulthood, Gerwig was soon courted by mainstream adjacent filmmakers like Noam Baumbach, who cast her as the assistant to an eccentric Hollywood family in "Greenberg" (2010), and later became her significant other. Though a box office failure, "Greenberg" and her work with the mumblecore scene led to work in Hollywood features: Gerwig was part of a complex love quadrangle with Jesse Eisenberg and Ellen Page in Woody Allen's "To Rome with Love" (2012), played Natalie Portman's best friend in Ivan Reitman's "No Strings Attached" (2011) and was pursued by boyish millionaire Russell Brand in the remake of "Arthur" (2011). But Gerwig also remained connected to her indie roots through performances in Whit Stillman's "Damsels in Distress" (2011) and drew critical praise for her turns as young women in various stages of personal collapse and reconstruction in "Lola Versus" (2011) and Baumbach's "Frances Ha" (2012), which she co-wrote, and which earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical. After netting positive reviews for her stage debut in The Village Bike in 2014, Gerwig resumed her busy schedule of roles in independent features, including a turn as a gay woman who engages in a sexual relationship with aging actor Al Pacino in Barry Levinson's "The Humbling" (2015), a career woman whose desire to have a baby with a married man leads to complications in Rebecca Miller's "Maggie's Plan" (2015), and as the adult version of Heather Matarazzo's hapless Dawn Wiener in Todd Solondz's "Wiener-Dog" (2016), a sequel of sorts to his debut, "Welcome to the Dollhouse" (1995). After playing a photographer recovering from cancer in Mike Mills' autobiographical "20th Century Women" (2016), Gerwig wrote and directed "Lady Bird" (2017), a carefully crafted and painfully honest comedy-drama about an eclectic teenager with artistic ambitions and a challenging home life; the film earned near-universal acclaim, as well as a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy, while Gerwig became the fifth woman in motion picture history to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. After voicing a character in Wes Anderson's animated "Isle of Dogs" (2018), Gerwig commenced on her next project as writer-director: an adaptation of "Little Women" (2019) which reunited her with her "Lady Bird" star, Saoirse Ronan. The film opened to universal acclaim on Christmas 2019.