Natalie Portman will take on the dual roles of director and star for her upcoming drama about real-life dueling advice columnists Esther and Pauline Friedman. But Portman’s double act will extend further than that — she’ll be playing the dual roles of Esther and Pauline, who were the twin sisters behind the competing advice columns Dear Abby and Ann Landers.
Following her directorial debut with A Tale of Love and Darkness, Portman is making her way behind the camera again. But her second feature film is doubly ambitious. The Oscar winner will take on the daunting task of playing two roles in a film, of twin sisters whose bitter rivalry seeped over from their personal lives into the professional, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The untitled Natalie Portman Ann Landers-Dear Abby drama will follow real-life sisters Esther and Pauline Friedman, who both take over competing advice columns in the 1950s. While Esther takes on the prestigious established pen name of Ask Ann Landers, Pauline founds her own column named Dear Abby — which becomes a source of contention between the two twins. Their personal lives “were equal parts competitive, jealous, successful and loving,” THR writes, despite a bitter professional rivalry that spanned decades.
The feature will be penned by Katie Robbins, who currently serves as a producer on Showtime’s The Affair. Peter Saraf and Dani Melia of Big Beach are set to produce.
There’s no denying that the Oscar winning actress is more than capable of taking on dual roles — I still hold the belief that she’s one of the most undervalued actresses working today (justice for Jackie!) — but directing and starring is a heavy burden for Portman to take. Then again, the Harvard grad is nothing if not an overachiever, and starring in dual roles while directing herself definitely launches Portman into peak overachiever status.
I never saw A Tale of Love and Darkness, which received mixed reviews when it hit theaters in in 2015, but I will always look forward to a Natalie Portman project regardless of whether she’s behind or in front of the camera. Good thing we get both.
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