As evidenced by that infamous appearance on Ellen (among other things), Dakota Johnson has this dry sense of playful wisdom about her that seems perfectly suited to playing a Jane Austen heroine. Thankfully, Netflix is now giving her a chance to actually portray one. According to IndieWire, Johnson will star in an adaptation of Persuasion, Austen’s last fully-completed novel, and the one with her eldest protagonist.
Johnson will play Anne Elliot, an Englishwoman who had been persuaded by everyone around her to break off an engagement to a Navy Captain 10 years earlier. Now, in her late twenties, she’s still living at home when her family, who have been living above their means, decides to rent out their home to pay off rising debts. They find a nice, young couple as tenants and alas, the woman just happens to the sister of Anne’s former fiancé. You know what happens next even if you haven’t read the novel: Anne has to decide if she wants to give her Navy Captain a second chance.
Playing an Austen heroine is something of a rite of passage for leading ladies. Keira Knightley, Anya Taylor-Joy, Kate Winslet, Rosamund Pike, and Gwyneth Paltrow have all taken their turn.
Acclaimed theater director Carrie Cracknel will be making her cinematic debut with the project. Most recently she directed Broadway’s Sea Wall/A Life, which earned Tony nominations for both Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge. Ron Bass and Alice Victoria Winslow have written the script. Bass won an Oscar for writing Rain Man, but perhaps more pertinent to this project, he also wrote the Julia Roberts classic My Best Friend’s Wedding.
Johnson herself has been pretty busy. She’ll soon star in Maggie Gyllenhaal's debut as a film director, My Lost Daugther, which is itself an adaptation of an Elena Ferrante novel (Olivia Colman and Paul Mescal will also appear). She’s also shot Am I OK?, the directorial effort of comedian Tig Notaro and her wife Stephanie Allynne.
Update 05/05/2021: In intriguing news, Henry Golding has also joined the cast. Though, he won’t be playing Johnson’s love interest. Instead, he’ll be playing her character’s distant evil cousin William with an eye on whatever titles and money the family has left.