​Greta Gerwig on the Parallels Between Her Life and 'Lady Bird'

"I felt like I made a heroine that I wish I could have been"

BY Sarah MurphyPublished Jan 24, 2018

Greta Gerwig is deservedly garnering plenty of attention for last year's Lady Bird, including becoming just the fifth woman in the Oscars' 90-year history to earn a Best Director nomination. The film tells the story of a spunky, self-named high schooler (played by Saoirse Ronan), navigating her way through the drama of university applications, friends, first loves and parents in Sacramento.
Gerwig herself grew up in the California capital, and can't deny that many aspects of the film reflect her own real life experiences — though it's not completely autobiographical.
"I went to Catholic girls school, but the character of Lady Bird and all the characters in the film are their own characters. Particularly Lady Bird — I wasn't like that," Gerwig told Exclaim! during an interview last fall. "I never made anyone call me by a different name, I wasn't particularly out there. I was a rule follower and I liked gold stars. I was kind of a people-pleaser."
Pointing out the lack of coming-of-age films that feature female protagonists, she said, "I felt like I made a heroine that I wish I could have been — not a perfect heroine, but one who was living out some fantasy for me. That being said, I did give my mom hell. So, that is real."
The writer/director was also quick to acknowledge that Lady Bird's strict, hypercritical and at times begrudging mother (brilliantly acted Laurie Metcalf) isn't a facsimile of her own mother. In fact, upon viewing the film for the first time, Gerwig's mother told her, "Oh, Greta! You wish I would give you the silent treatment."
Gerwig explained, "She obviously knows what's real and what's not real, but I think the core of the story is so deep to me and even if the characters are different than I was or my family was, or certain things are different and the events are different, it's the heart of it that I relate to. I don't know that it matters if you're making a movie that's set in your hometown or you're making a movie about an alien, if it doesn't connect to your heart it won't connect to anybody else's."
Lady Bird is filled with heart, delivering as many hilarious moments as gut-wrenching ones. The film is anchored by the human relationships Lady Bird develops, but also her relationship to her hometown — a sentiment Gerwig is all too familiar with from her new perch in Hollywood.
"I'm from Sacramento and I love Sacramento," she said. "And I wanted to make a movie about home and how home is only something that comes into focus as you're leaving."
The Academy Awards will be handed out in a broadcasted ceremony on March 4. Lady Bird is nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress in a Leading Role and Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

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