HFPA in Conversation: Patty Jenkins, True-Crime Buff

by Kirpi Uimonen Ballesteros July 24, 2019
Director Patty Jenkins

alberto e. rodriguez/getty images

Patty Jenkins is interested in people and emotions - that’s why she became a director and screenwriter.  Her next movie, Wonder Woman 1984, will be released next summer.  A limited series she executive produced and partially directed, I Am the Night, was released earlier this year.  “It’s a story that I was so passionate about getting to be a part of.  I’m a true-crime buff as I Am the Night and Monster demonstrate,” she tells HFPA journalist Margaret Gardiner at the TNT office.

The TV show is inspired by the book "One Day She'll Darken: The Mysterious Beginnings of Fauna Hodel".  It tells the journey of Fauna, played by India Eisley, and how she got to know who her grandfather was. “It is an incredible story of a woman who truly did not know her identity and came into this world only to discover the very worst things that she could discover about her identity and yet she’s the victor of the whole story. She’s the one who rose above and said identity won’t define me.”

Jenkins' own identity started to shape when she was a kid.  She was born in California but lived in Thailand and Germany before she was five. “I think it had a tremendous influence on me actually because instead of growing up believing in one reality of life where I am a person from a place where we do things like this, I was immediately traveling and in incredibly different cultures and learning very quickly, because even when we returned to the United States we moved around, learning very quickly that people are all the same and they’re all different.”

She thinks that affected her tremendously. “Once you realize that you just have to figure out what’s the playbook of this society, what does that mean in this culture, what does that expression mean here?  It’s a wonderful way of becoming very curious about people, which is I think why I’m a filmmaker.  I really love people and I’m super interested in what makes them tick and I’m super interested in figuring it out because I have had to learn how to do it in the past probably.”

Listen to the podcast and hear what kind of childhood she had; why she was passionate about the arts but fell in love with film; what she did before studying directing; why she got interested in Aileen Wuornos and wrote and directed a film based on her life; why she wanted Charlize Theron to play Wuornos in Monster ; how motherhood changed her career; why she adores Chris Pine; why India Eisley is a gem; why she thinks directing is a technical job; why it is important for her to find the best person for a job despite the gender; why strong female role models are important; how she learned she needs to be paid the same as her male counterparts; why she is happy to be part of the equality conversation but waiting for a day when she can be just a filmmaker; how she feels when people compliment Wonder Woman as a successful female movie; what she can say about the new Wonder Woman 1984 movie; whether she would like to direct another superhero movie; why Gal Gadot is a perfect Wonder Woman; and how she creates female villains.