Jennifer Lawrence’s Excellent Cadaver producing partner Justine Ciarrocchi said the Oscar-winning actress was “itching to do something small and intimate” after years of doing bigger studio movies when she signed on to make Lila Neugebauer’s Causeway.
“We were submitted the original draft of the [Causeway] script towards the end of Jen’s (three- year) acting hiatus,” said Ciarrocchi, who appeared via Zoom for a panel at Deadline’s The Contenders Film: New York award-season event. “So much of what we were reading at the time was super traditionally structured and predictable, and sort of checking all the right boxes. We were reading scripts that just didn’t feel particularly inspiring or relatable, but when we got this piece, it was the opposite of all of that. [Causeway] was a true character piece. We could feel the mood on the page. So, we reacted right away.”
In the A24 and Apple Original Films feature, Lawrence plays Lynsey, an Afghanistan war vet who is suffering from body and brain injuries. She forms an unlikely friendship with a mechanic named James (Brian Tyree Henry).
Causeway, which is Excellent Cadaver’s first project, also appealed to Lawrence on a personal level, Ciarrocchi said.
“Jen lives a glorious but strange life as most public figures do,” the producer said. “I think she’s always grappled with the idea of wondering where she belongs and where home is and has experienced, like all of us, isolation. She identified with Lynsey immediately.”
The film, which was filmed in New Orleans, was named after the city’s Causeway Bridge. “New Orleans is a central character in the film,” said Ciarrocchi. “It’s such a singular American city. The culture is resilient and vivacious and deeply soulful, and the people of New Orleans suffered and survived so much so it made sense to include a piece of the city in the title. Ultimately our hope is that we represented the city authentically. New Orleans as a hometown and not New Orleans as a caricature.”
Ciarrocchi is currently working on Sony’s R-rated comedy No Hard Feelings, which stars Lawrence as a ne’er-do-well who is hired by a rich couple to befriend their socially awkward kid. Matthew Broderick and Laura Benanti also star.
Excellent Cadaver’s next project will be the film adaptation of Ariana Harwicz’s Die, My Love. “Lynn Ramsey is adapting and directing, and Jen and I will produce with Martin’s Scorsese,” Ciarrocchi said. “We are pretty floored that it came together, and we are so excited to bring it to life.”
Check back Monday for the Causeway panel video.