×

Liz Meriwether

10 Screenwriters to Watch

With exactly one produced script to her credit (a TV pilot called “Sluts”), Liz Meriwether has found herself in a position the average screenwriter could only dream — or write — about: She’s got four major projects in development, one of which — female spy caper “Honey Pot” — sold for six figures to Paramount off a one-sentence pitch.

Friends With Benefits” (aka “Fuckbuddies”), Meriwether’s romantic comedy script written for Ivan Reitman’s Montecito Picture Co., is set to star Natalie Portman.

“She has a very fresh and very original voice,” says Reitman. “I’ve been trying to find comedy voices for my entire career of making movies, and I think her words utterly represent the craziness of relationships amongst 20-year-olds today. It’s fairly unique, but also insightful.”

The singularity of her situation isn’t lost on Meriwether. “It kind of went like: I was working as a receptionist at a real estate investment management company, and then a week later I was in a golf cart, hiring a production designer,” she says, grinning through her geek-chic glasses and disheveled tawny blond hair. “I think I’m still recovering.”

That was for the “Sluts” pilot, which the Yale grad and then-budding New York playwright was hired to write, based on the strength of a 10-minute play.

Meriwether says the transition to Hollywood, where she’s also done uncredited work on pics like “Transformers,” felt quite natural. “The films I write tend to be a bit on the talky side, and the plays that I wrote were crazy and cinematic,” she says. “I think of it all as comedy; you’re just trying to get a laugh.”

A big fan of fart jokes and profanity, the Michigan native gives props to Judd Apatow for reviving the R-rated comedy, but she chooses to tell stories about the female experience. “Benefits” turns the romantic comedy upside down, beginning in bed and then exploring whether the relationship is worth pursuing. Refreshingly, the female lead character — the Portman role — just may not be that into him.

“People want to put women in one box,” Meriwether says, “and I’m interested in how women can be everything at once. She can be a slut who wants to fall in love, or she can party too much, but she’s still very smart. I want to expand the vocabulary.” With impeccable comic timing, she adds, “We’ll see how long I last.”

AGE: 27

HOMETOWN: Ann Arbor, Mich.

INSPIRED BY: Woody Allen, Tina Fey and the writers of “30 Rock”; 1930s screwball comedies; “Party Girl”; “The Goonies”

UP NEXT: “Maynard & Jennica,” a romantic comedy for Scott Rudin and Miramax; “The Bailout” for Marc Platt

REPS: Agent: Cliff Roberts (WME); attorney: Jeff Frankel (McKuin Frankel Whitehead)

More Scene

  • Dwayne Johnson Idris Elba

    Dwayne Johnson: Idris Elba Nixed 'Black James Bond' Joke in 'Hobbs & Shaw'

    In the “Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw,” the movie’s villain Brixton, played by Idris Elba, spreads his arms out wide and declares “I’m black Superman.” It turns out that might not have been the original line. Dwayne Johnson tells Variety that Elba was first asked to proclaim he’s “black James Bond,” but the [...]

  • Matteo BocelliAmerican Icon Awards Gala, Inside,

    Top Music Manager Calls Out American Icon Awards for Failing to Pay Talent

    The centuries-old adage no good deed goes unpunished is a common refrain for star music manager Scott Rodger of late. Rodger, who represents Paul McCartney and Andrea Bocelli at Maverick, says his client Matteo Bocelli, the son of the opera star, was stiffed out of promised expense reimbursement by the American Icon Awards. The event, [...]

  • Mary Bailey Steve D'Angelo, Jim Belushi

    Cannabis Industry Tackles Justice Reform With 'Last Prisoner Project'

    Jim Belushi is standing two feet away in the backyard of his spacious Brentwood home, honking a harp like he’s a Blues Brother back in sweet home Chicago accompanied by noted reggae band Rebelution’s Eric Rachmany and Kyle Ahern, who provide a 12-bar shuffle. There’s the sweet smell of skunk – and success — hanging [...]

  • Dwayne Wade holds up the legend

    Dwyane Wade, Megan Rapinoe Win Big at 2019 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards

    The 2019 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Sports Awards was filled with incredible athletes, inspiring moments and — of course — a massive amount of slime. “I love the kids. I love the slime. I loved the games. I love seeing celebrities and athletes like become kids again. And it’s like my favorite thing,” Michael Strahan told [...]

  • Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani

    Dave Bautista Talks Representation in Hollywood and Defying Stereotypes with 'Stuber'

    Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani make an unlikely duo in “Stuber,” an R-rated comedy about a police officer and his Uber driver. But the two connected over the rare chance to star in the film as actors of Asian descent (Baustia is half-Filipino and Nanjiani is Pakistani). “I’ve been stereotyped for a couple different reasons [...]

  • Skin

    How Jamie Bell Transformed Into a Neo-Nazi for 'Skin'

    Anyone who still associates British actor Jamie Bell with his breakout role as a young boy who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer will quickly forget all about “Billy Elliot” after seeing “Skin,” which screened at ArcLight Hollywood on Thursday night. “I was shocked,” the film’s writer-director, Guy Nattiv, told Variety of his leading man’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content