Novels like The Great Gatsby and The Beautiful and Damned cemented F. Scott Fitzgerald’s status as a literary icon, but some bookish types (myself included) would argue that his wife, Zelda, was the more talented of the pair. Her creative contributions have certainly been less valued in comparison to her husband, but thanks to Ron Howard, she’s finally getting the biopic she deserves (or one would hope), with Jennifer Lawrence set to play the title role in Zelda.
THR reports that Lawrence has signed on to play Zelda Fitzgerald in Zelda, based on Nancy Milford’s bestselling biography of the same name. Ron Howard is developing the project, which he may also direct, from a screenplay by Emma Frost — whose TV series credits include The White Queen and Shameless. Lawrence’s casting is a great way to cement interest in the biopic, though it’s too bad that Alison Pill isn’t taking on the part after her great portrayal in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, in which she starred opposite Tom Hiddleston’s F. Scott.
Zelda Fitzgerald was a well-known Jazz Age socialite and party girl who loved to cause a scene. She was the chief muse for her husband, F. Scott, who christened her “America’s first flapper.” The couple’s tendency to overindulge in alcohol exacerbated their tumultuous relationship, which was fraught with affairs, accusations and resentments (typically with regards to their respective creative endeavors). Some, like Ernest Hemingway, accused Zelda of being responsible for F. Scott’s steady decrease in writing, while others defended her as a victim of the author’s incessant abuses.
Zelda had a brilliant creative mind in her own right: She was a talented painter, writer and poet, though she never achieved the same level of acclaim as her husband. She was later diagnosed with schizophrenia and lived in a series of clinics. Her first and only novel, Save Me the Waltz, was published in 1932 and was a semi-autobiographical account of her marriage; F. Scott was infuriated.
She also published a play, Scandalabra, but perhaps some of her best writing can be found in the collected letters between Zelda and F. Scott, which serve as a melancholy illustration of their romance and its decline. Zelda’s confessional writing is heart-wrenching and poetic:
You didn’t care: so I went on and on — dancing alone, and, no matter what happens, I still know in my heart that it is a Godless, dirty game; that love is bitter and all there is, and that the rest is for the emotional beggars of the earth and is about the equivalent of people who stimulate themselves with dirty post-cards.