Actress Rebel Wilson is set to make her directorial debut with an adaptation of the Australian musical of “The Deb” for Unigram, AI Film and Access Entertainment.
“The Deb,” according to the official synopsis, tells the story of “lovable farm-girl and high school outcast Taylah Simpkins, who is certain the upcoming Debutante Ball, ‘the Deb,’ is her one chance to redefine herself. When her cynical city cousin Maeve is exiled to Taylah’s drought-stricken town Dunburn, she thinks the ball is a ‘heteronormative shit-show’ and immediately disrupts the status quo. In their search for the spotlight, Taylah and Maeve dig deep to find self-acceptance — and a date to the Deb.”
The musical originally premiered at Sydney’s Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP) in 2022, written by Hannah Reilly. It includes original songs from singer-songwriter Meg Washington.
“’The Deb’ is my type of movie — full of humour, full of heart, and uniquely Australian but with universal themes,” Wilson said in a statement. “It came out of my scholarship program at the non-profit Australian Theatre for Young People, a program that I’m very proud of and has had incredible success. If there was ever a movie I was going to direct, it would be this one. This project is just so special and original. Hannah and Meg have done an outstanding job writing it, and to collaborate with Amanda, Len, Gregor, and the team at Bunya down under has been amazing. We’re utilizing the best musical resources in the world and the most fantastic Australian talent to bring this project to the screen.”
“I grew up watching Australian classics like ‘Muriel’s Wedding,’ ‘The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert,’ and Baz Luhrmann’s early films,” Wilson continued. “My goal is to create an Australian work that rivals those masterpieces and travels internationally. I know I can bring the funny, and hopefully it’ll be just as moving as well.”
Wilson herself is credited as being in the cast, alongside directing, though her role has not been announced. The film will star a slew of rising Australian stars, including Natalie Abbott as Taylah and Charlotte MacInnes as Maeve, as well as Stevie Jean. Veteran actors including Tara Morice (of “Strictly Ballroom” fame), Jay Laga’aia, and Shane Jacobson will also have roles.
Amanda Ghost, Len Blavatnik, and Gregor Cameron of Unigram act as producers, alongside Wilson’s Camp Sugar Productions and Bunya Productions, as well as Danny Cohen of Access Entertainment.
“It is a joy to be partnering with the extraordinarily talented Rebel Wilson on ‘The Deb,'” Ghost said in a statement. “This is a project that is so intrinsic to Rebel and her Australian roots. As soon as she introduced us to the musical and talked about the film we knew this brilliant script and unforgettable musical numbers would have a whole new life in her capable hands. We cannot wait for the world to see ‘The Deb.'”
Wilson is best known for her 2012 breakout performance in “Pitch Perfect,” and has starred in features like “Isn’t It Romantic,” “The Hustle” and, most recently, “Senior Year” for Netflix.
Production is set to begin in Australia in September of 2023.