Jessica Knoll Went From ‘Cosmo’ Star to Screenwriting ‘Luckiest Woman Alive,’ and She’s Obtained A+ Tales
When Jessica Knoll wrote her bestselling ebook Luckiest Girl Alive again in 2016, she could not probably have identified that if she flash-forwarded to 2022, she’d be hitting a pink carpet in a inexperienced sequin robe alongside Mila Kunis after efficiently writing the Netflix adaptation of her work herself. However right here we’re! The writer, screenwriter, and Cosmopolitan alumna has achieved large success, and Netflix model of her first novel is simply additional proof of it.
Luckiest Girl Alive debuts on Netflix this weekend, and the seven-year strategy of getting it on display screen has hardly been simple. Within the lead as much as the discharge, Jessica hopped on the cellphone along with her alma matter Cosmo to debate Mila Kunis’s efficiency as Ani Fanelli, her screenwriting pro-tips, and what ended up left on the reducing room ground.
Cosmopolitan: What was the variation course of like? Did your camp strategy Netflix?
Getting something made is so much. I discover it superb, as a result of there’s a lot content material on the market, however it’s a battle. After we first began off, we had been with a unique studio, we had been with Lionsgate. They had been very excited and enthusiastic in regards to the venture for the primary few years, after which, because it occurs, there was turnover. It simply turned very clear it was not actually a precedence. I emailed our producer Bruna Papandrea, and I used to be like, ‘Have you learnt when the choice is up?’ We had been capable of work out a take care of Lionsgate the place they launched us from the choice early. In the end, we discovered our dwelling at Netflix.
What was probably the most rewarding a part of this moviemaking course of after Netflix gave you the green-light?
I feel it was when Mila signed on. We had been attempting to solid that position right here and there over time. After we began contemporary at Netflix, Mila was actually by no means somebody we talked about as a result of she hadn’t completed something actually dramatic since Black Swan. We weren’t eager about her as a dramatic actress, despite the fact that she has the chops after which some. Scott Stuber at Netflix was the one who was like, ‘I feel we should always exit to Mila Kunis.’ And as quickly as he stated her title, we had been all like, ‘Oh, my God, sure. Why did we not consider that earlier than?’
We had been like, ‘Yeah, I might like to have Mila Kunis play Ani, however she’s by no means gonna. She’s Mila Kunis. She’s being provided every part, she’s busy!’ However then she responded and was like, ‘I actually appreciated this, let’s discuss.’ And that, to me, was the very best. We had simply been caught at that time for therefore a few years looking for our lead actress and it felt like, ‘Oh my God. This might really occur.’ I used to be simply beside myself.
What was it finally like working with Mila on this? What do you consider her portrayal of Ani?
I actually really feel as soon as I used to be on set and watching her carry out the traces, all of it coalesced for me in a method the place I used to be like, ‘I do not know that anybody else might have completed this.’ As a result of the entire thing with Mila that is so attention-grabbing is the majority of her work has been issues which are moreso comedies, and we all know her as a sure persona, like being “America’s Woman Subsequent Door.”
That’s so vital to the character, who has an outward look that belies every part occurring along with her internally. I noticed what precise good casting it was that you simply had somebody who naturally introduced that persona to the character, so if you hear what’s actually occurring of their head, you are like, holy shit.
I used to be so struck by her efficiency. One thing that stayed with me after watching it had been these mirror pictures the place she would not even have traces.
Thanks for saying that. I agree, these are simply a number of the most gorgeous pictures of the film.
I read the Cosmo interview you did nearer to when the ebook got here out, and also you stated you needed to be a screenwriter if you had been youthful, despite the fact that you did not perceive but what it entailed. Now that you’ve got completed it, what did it entail? And what shocked you probably the most about it?
I feel what shocked me probably the most about it’s—and that is gonna sound actually naive, and, you already know, gullible of me—it is not simply good dialogue. There is a have to be transient and concise since you solely have a lot actual property to determine sure turning factors within the story, sure developments, sure relationships. You do not even all the time want a line to point out that, it may be only a weighted look. So I knew that in concept, however really getting nearer to manufacturing, it clarified issues for me in an entire new method the place I used to be like, ‘You actually have a accountability as a storyteller to transcend [dialogue].’ I discover that I am actually excited to dive into my subsequent adaptation or screenplay, as a result of now I perceive this on such a deep stage.
As you are speaking, I am considering of all these scenes, too, that illustrate what you are saying. Like on the very finish when Ani’s alone, and it is the breakup, and the dialogue peters out into a large shot.
Since you see, it is extensive to encapsulate every part she’s giving up. This nice huge life. That is every part you are strolling away from.
You make a superb level about actual property as effectively, significantly if you’re adapting a ebook. Is there something you needed to depart on the reducing room ground that tugs at your heartstrings a bit?
Sure, positively. A few of the Mr. Larson stuff was positively laborious to depart on the reducing room ground. And what’s robust about it’s the cause it is on the reducing room ground is finally my fault as a author, as a result of the way in which I wrote a number of the scenes didn’t work with the circulate of the film and the emotional arc of the place the character was at. I used to be attempting to shoehorn one thing into the center of the movie with out trying on the story holistically, and after we filmed a few of these scenes that we left on the reducing room ground, even Mila was like, ‘I simply, I am combating this scene.’ That is all the time the factor with hindsight, the place you are like, ‘Oh, my God, in fact. Now I get it.’ It kills me a little bit bit as a result of it nearly looks like it could be simpler to take care of if somebody was simply, like, a nasty actor.
It appears like baptism by hearth, but additionally what a cool alternative to develop.
Yeah, I’ll take that with me, and I will be a greater author for it.
Did you discover yet one more tough than the opposite by way of writing the ebook initially after which screenwriting the film afterward?
The factor with Luckiest Woman Alive is it is such a novel in my canon of labor. I’ve now written three books—I simply turned in my third ebook—and writing Luckiest Woman Alive was probably the most fulfilling inventive expertise of my writing profession.
On the time I sat down to jot down that ebook, there have been plenty of elements at play that contributed to a change flipping, and it simply poured out of me. It simply felt so cathartic and like, ‘That is what I meant to be doing.’ I couldn’t wait to get again to the web page.
With the variation, I additionally liked it. I like screenwriting, and I’ve gone on to jot down authentic screenplays and offered one to Amazon, and that is the following finest writing expertise I’ve had after writing Luckiest Woman Alive. It is like I wrote the ebook for me, and I wrote the screenplay for me. Nevertheless, when you get deeper and deeper into the method, there are lots of people the copy has to make its method by. At each cease on that prepare, that particular person has a observe, and that particular person has an concept about the way to make it higher, or that particular person has a query as a result of this is not working for them. It drives you mad a little bit bit.
Loads of instances, it simply relies upon at what stage within the course of I am in that I favor one medium to the opposite. So it comes and goes, and I’ve my moments the place I need to throw my pc out the window whether or not I am writing a screenplay or whether or not I am writing a ebook. After which I’ve moments the place I am so pleased I am doing what I used to be placed on the Earth to do, and I really feel so creatively fulfilled with each as effectively.
Final query for you: I’ve to ask since we’re each Cosmo folks, how did your time working at Cosmo impression your profession afterwards?
Actually every part. I maintain going again to this anecdote of like, main actresses like Susan Sarandon who bought their begin on cleaning soap operas, and so they credit score the cleaning soap opera for educating them every part about studying their traces and hitting their marks. It is like bootcamp. That is how I really feel about Cosmo, it was writing bootcamp.
After I get these large observe paperwork from producers, the one factor the crew has all the time stated to me is, ‘You are so good about notes. You do not complain, you’re taking them in, and you discover options that also handle to be true to the core DNA of the ebook and the voice.’ I’ve had folks inform me that is a uncommon factor. I do know that is from magazines, I completely credit score that 100% to working at Cosmo and pouring your coronary heart into a chunk and it comes again with a rainbow of notes and also you’re identical to, ‘Oh my God, it is such a large number.’ However you work it out, as a result of you could have a deadline.
Cosmo gave me the boldness to be a author. I did not know you can have that sort of life as a author. I get very nostalgic once I suppose again to my Cosmo days, they had been a extremely, actually pleased time in my life.
That is good to listen to, and it is cool to observe you succeed. We’re rooting for you!
Which means a lot. You recognize, you are my alma mater! So the following era, I am unable to even think about the belongings you guys will do.
This interview has been edited and condensed for readability.