Philip K. Dick’s literary work is no stranger to the big screen. Just a few of his stories turned feature films include Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly. Now, it’s the author’s life story set to hit the big screen. However, his biopic is set to break the traditional genre mold altogether. The project, titled “Jane,” is taking an alternative-reality approach, exploring the life and mind of the sci-fi author through that of his twin sister, who died as an infant. Surely, this “anti-biopic” is taking some major creative liberties to pay homage to the famed author, who passed away in 1982.
Undoubtedly, on the surface, an author biopic fictionally resurrecting a deceased sibling sounds a bit untoward and even insensitive. However, this unique direction for the film has the blessing and the backing of Dick’s daughter, Isa Hackett.
As one of the producers of the film, Hackett weighed in on the importance of his twin sister in telling her father’s story. Per a recent exclusive with The Hollywood Reporter, Hackett explained:
Jane, my father’s twin sister who died a few weeks after birth, was at the center of his universe. Befitting a man of his unique imagination, this film will defy the conventions of a biopic and embrace the alternate reality Philip K. Dick so desperately desired—one in which his beloved sister survived beyond six weeks of age. It is her story we will tell, her lens through which we will see him and his imagination. There is no better way to honor him than to grant him his wish, if only for the screen.Isa Hackett for The Hollywood Reporter
Hackett has worked as a producer for other TV adaptations of her father’s literature – including Amazon originals like The Man In The High Castle and Electric Dreams. Her input on the prevalence of Jane, this long-lost twin sister, this figure shadowing his whole life’s journey, certainly alludes to a unique, artistic spin on the biopic – one made to channel the spirit of the sci-fi author in a striking, family-oriented way.
Though there is no official cast list or release date for the film, two major Hollywood names are ascribed to this developing project. The first of which is actress Charlize Theron, who is reportedly producing the Amazon studios film. It is assumed that Theron is up for the leading role as Philip’s twin; However, her specific casting is yet to be confirmed.
Rounding out the trio of producers with Charlize Theron and Isa Hackett is renowned director Alfonso Cuaron. Cuaron has an extensive and prestigious background as a film director. Some of his most notable endeavors include Oscar-winner Roma, Gravity, and fan-favorite, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Undoubtedly, Cuaron has a distinct style to his filmography, and his artistic direction behind the camera may cinch the success of this genre-defying endeavor on a sci-fi icon. However, it’s been proven that not all creatively-led biopics find success. For example, last year’s Spencer fared poorly at the box office, with generally split reviews. Notably, because it was a rather strange and challenging film to watch (despite its visual beauty and aesthetic).
In the end, even with potential risks in critical reception, this developing “anti-biopic” may indeed serve as the most befitting tribute to Philip K. Dick’s pioneering sci-fi legacy. As a genre, science fiction shines and transforms to new heights through ingenuity, by pushing the boundaries of reader/viewer imagination. Thus, this new feature looks to find success by utilizing the same open-ended vision of the sci-fi genre. I’m excited to see how it all takes shape!