Promising Young Woman producer Margot Robbie was tempted to play the lead role, which went to Carey Mulligan, herself.
In Emerald Fennell’s directorial debut, Carey plays Cassie, a young woman traumatised by a tragic event in her past who seeks out vengeance against those who cross her path.
Killing Eve writer Fennell, who plays Camilla Parker Bowles in The Crown, developed the movie with Robbie’s production company LuckyChap Entertainment, which came onboard in 2017 after hearing the writer/director’s pitch.
Robbie has taken the lead role in a few of LuckyChap’s projects, such as I, Tonya and Dreamland, and while it was tempting to do the same for Promising Young Woman, the Australian actress realised there was a less obvious choice for Cassie.
“This was a hard one to step aside for,” Robbie told Variety. “But I felt like I would perhaps be the kind of Cassie people might expect, you know? And I feel like someone like Carey — we just haven’t seen her do this. She brings gravitas to it.”
Fennell already had Mulligan at the top of her list because having an actress known for period dramas like An Education and Suffragette was an unlikely pick for the revenge tale.
“Who I really wanted for the role was someone who was a surprising choice — certainly somebody who hadn’t done a ton of action movies or thrillers or genre stuff. In my wildest dreams, Carey was top of my list,” Fennell explained.
And she feels like it would have been “impossible” to make the character of Cassie so fully formed without Mulligan’s help.
“Because Carey is so exceptionally gifted, it was only her who could have given this character that in my mind was, as you say, this kind of an allegorical person — to make it completely and utterly real,” she praised.
Mulligan recently bagged the Best Actress prize for the movie at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards.
Promising Young Woman is released in the U.S. in December and U.K. in February.