Two weeks after Casey Affleck addressed his past behavior in an apologetic interview with the Associated Press, Collider has learned that he has come on to produce and co-star in the sports drama Fencer, which hails from up-and-coming writer-director Jasmine McGlade.
Per the film’s IMDb page, the story follows a hard-charging female athlete who faces personal demons and childhood rivals as she vies for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Fencing Team. Affleck is expected to play a supporting role as her demanding fencing coach, who used to parry and riposte himself back in the day, though the film is hardly a two-hander, as it’s squarely focused on the woman at the center of the story.
Affleck will produce via his Sea Change Media banner along with Whitaker Lader and McGlade. McGlade made her feature directorial debut with the 2011 indie drama Maria My Love and is the ex-wife of La La Land director Damien Chazelle. She successfully fought for an executive producer credit on that award-winning musical, having played a key role in its early development, and she also produced Chazelle’s first feature, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench.
Affleck won a well-deserved Best Actor Oscar two years ago for his devastating performance in Manchester by the Sea, though he found himself a target of the #MeToo movement shortly thereafter as a result of his self-admittedly inappropriate behavior during the chaotic production of the 2010 Joaquin Phoenix film I’m Still Here. Affleck wasn’t the only one generally misbehaving on that set, but as a boss and one of the producers, he took responsibility. Affleck settled the resulting lawsuits out of court and has not had any reported incidents since then, but he bowed out from presenting at last year’s Oscar ceremony, where his presence might have been an unnecessary distraction from the night’s Best Actress nominees.
Thus, it’s worth noting that Affleck is using his industry clout to produce a female-driven story from a female filmmaker. He named his company Sea Change because he wants to be an active participant in the paradigm shift currently taking place in the film industry, and he credits Brown-educated Lader — who has run the company for two years — with helping him find unique stories worth telling.
“I have this production company and this very, very smart woman runs it with me and she’s been way ahead of the curve on all of these issues,” Affleck told the AP. “We’re trying to find people who can tell stories that we don’t usually see in mainstream pop culture, movies, media, Hollywood, with storytellers who need a hand.”
Affleck went on to say that “women have been underrepresented” in the entertainment industry and that he wants to help turn the tide. So far, it seems like the talent community has been receptive, as several top actresses have expressed interest in the project, which offers a strong, challenge female protagonist — though as of now, no one has been cast yet. Fencer is still in development, but it could come together quickly once McGlade finds her leading lady.
Affleck next stars opposite Robert Redford in David Lowery‘s The Old Man & the Gun, which opens on Sept. 28. He’s represented by WME, while McGlade is repped by UTA and Lighthouse Management & Media.