Seven years after starring together in Tate Taylor’s The Help, for which they both received Oscar nominations, Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer will reunite as the co-stars of a new UNTITLED UNIVERSAL HOLIDAY COMEDY, the Tracking Board has confirmed.
The project came as an untitled pitch from Chastain and her production company Freckle Films that Universal picked up out of a bidding war with Fox and Paramount. Chastain and Kelly Carmichael wrote the original treatment with Peter Chiarelli (Crazy Rich Asian) attached to write the screenplay.
The pitch involves two women fighting the elements to make it home by Christmas, so a female-centric Planes, Trains and Automobiles?
Chastain will produce along with Carmichael and Maven Pictures’ Celine Rattray and Trudie Styler. Universal’s Exec VP of production Erik Baiers and creative executive Mika Pryce will oversee the project for the studio.
Spencer eventually won the Oscar for her role in The Help, but both actors have continued to receive attention in the years that followed. Chastain was nominated a second time for Zero Dark Thirty, and she’s been receiving some awards attention for her role playing Molly Bloom in Aaron Sorkin’s Molly’s Game. Spencer received another Oscar nomination for last year’s Hidden Figures and is predicted to be nominated a third time for Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. They both were nominated for the 75th Golden Globes for their respective roles
Repped by UTA, Mosaic and Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner & Gellman, Chiarelli wrote the romantic comedy The Proposal, which was a hit for Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. He also wrote the buzzworthy comedy Crazy Rich Asians, which Warner Bros. will release on August 17.
Chastain’s next significant role is playing someone named “Smith” in Fox’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix, but she also stars in Susanna White’s Woman Walks Ahead, which was picked up by A24 and DirecTV after its Toronto Film Festival premiere. (No date has been set for that film yet.) Chastain also has any number of projects on the table she could start filming soon, and she is repped by CAA, Mosaic and Hansen Jacobson.
Spencer, repped by WME and Jackoway Tyerman, will be at Sundance this week as part of the U.S. Narrative jury, but she’ll also have the non-competition film A Kid Like Jake having its world premiere at this year’s fest.
Variety initially reported on this project.
Edward Douglas | East Coast Editor