Years ago, Chris Pine turned “Wonder Woman” down. Then Patty Jenkins came on board and suddenly without even much of a script he found himself under a kind of spell listening to her vision for the film over a hamburger in Los Angeles’ Silverlake neighborhood. His no turned into a yes on the spot.
Jenkins, the 49-year-old “Wonder Woman 1984” writer-director has in the past few years turned more than one “no” into a “yes.” Along the way, she has not only cemented herself in the top echelon of big-budget filmmaking but has also forged new paths for her peers along the way with glass-ceiling shattering budgets, paydays and opportunities. Soon, she’ll be the first woman to direct a "Star Wars' film, too.
It’s no surprise to her cast, who are resoundingly in awe of their director.
“She is the embodiment of exactly what I think one needs to be a good director, which is you have to on one hand be General Patton, you have to be decisive, clear, you have to be a leader. You have to be a multitasker par excellence,” Pine said.
“And then you also have to be very quiet, observant. You have to be able to observe the people whom you’re asking to perform for you in order to key in to precisely the ways in which they need to be talked to or with to get the best from them. She just has an ability to do that that’s without peer in many ways.”
Pedro Pascal, who has also worked with Jenkins twice now, marveled at her unironic sincerity. It’s something that fuels and distinguishes her “Wonder Woman” films from other superhero fare.
“Everything that she does, no matter what the genre is, no matter if it’s film or if it’s television, if it’s independent or if it’s big budget, there’s always performance and there’s always wholeness and richness to the storytelling and unapologetically so,” Pascal said.
“She doesn’t waste any time insisting on being ironic or too cool...it’s a kind of visceral honesty that, frankly, is underrated. As highly rated as she is, it’s not enough.”
But even with box-office receipts and praise, Jenkins still had to fight to prove her worth. In 2017, “Wonder Woman” became the highest-grossing film ever from a solo female director with over $821 million in worldwide ticket sales, proving to skeptics the worth of not just female-fronted superhero films but female-directed ones as well.
Although Jenkins was already brainstorming the inevitable sequel, she held out on officially committing to direct until she secured an equitable raise, reportedly in the $7 to $9 million range. It wasn’t an uncommon sum for a man in her position, but it was unheard of for a woman. And the ask and public nature of the negotiation didn’t come easily.