Made by Madonna

Why Madonna Is Writing and Directing Her Own Biopic

The upcoming Madonna biopic is an ambitious project, considering the length of her career and the inevitable expectations around such a film. Most ambitious of all: Madonna herself is directing and writing it. But the Queen of Pop has explained that this is not about ego but honesty, making sure that her own voice is not trampled in the telling of her story.

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With the film in preproduction, there have been scant updates on its content. At the same time, it has been very public from the beginning. Madonna originally announced the biopic on her website in 2020, saying, “I want to convey the incredible journey that life has taken me on as an artist, a musician, a dancer, and a human being trying to make her way in this world.”

She explained that most of all “the focus of this film will always be music. Music has kept me going and art has kept me alive.”

Since then, Diablo Cody (Jennifer’s Body, Juno) became attached as co-writer, with the pair appearing together on an Instagram live in a public writing session. Cody has since departed, with Erin Cressida (The Girl on the Train) picking up co-writing duties.

Besides this, the vision for the film is entirely up to Madonna. While it might sound unusual for a pop star to write and direct their own movie, this isn’t Madonna’s first time behind the camera. She wrote and directed 2008’s Filth and Wisdom and 2011’s W.E.

But it isn’t just the directorial vision that Madonna has been particular about. Julia Garner (Ozark) was cast as Madonna after a reportedly “grueling” audition process involving 11-hour choreography sessions. So why has Madonna been so concerned with getting everything just right?

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For starters, it isn’t the first attempt at a film about her life. A previously planned biopic titled Blonde Ambition was going to be directed by Brett Ratner (Rush Hour), but it was canceled in 2016 shortly after Madonna read the screenplay. At the time, she wrote on Instagram, “Only I can tell my story. Anyone else who tries is a charlatan and a fool.” And shortly after that, multiple sexual assault allegations came out against Ratner—so bullet dodged there.

It is now clear that Madonna doesn’t want the misogyny of Hollywood anywhere near her film. In a recent interview with Variety, she was more candid on her reasoning, not only to make this film but to make it on her own. “I’ve had an extraordinary life, I must make an extraordinary film,” she said. “It was also a preemptive strike because a lot of people were trying to make movies about me. Mostly misogynistic men. So I put my foot in the door and said, ‘No one’s going to tell my story, but me'”.

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