Maggie Gyllenhaal will star in three short films by aspiring auteurs, produced by Kevin Spacey and Dana Brunetti’s Trigger Street Productions in a competition sponsored by Jameson Whiskey.
The three finalists in the 2016 Jameson First Shot contest — Cameron Thrower (California), Kat Wood (Sheffield, England) and Jason Perini (Sydney, Australia) — were announced Tuesday. Pernod Ricard’s Jameson brand surprised each winner with billboards in their hometowns featuring their names alongside Gyllenhaal’s.
Gyllenhaal and Trigger Street Productions led the judging of 20 shortlisted candidates’ short scenes and treatments from 2,700 submitted scripts. From those, the final three were selected: Thrower’s “Beauty Mark,” Wood’s “Home” and Perini’s “The New Empress.”
“I so rarely find a script that speaks to me, but all 20 spoke to me,” Gyllenhaal said in an interview. “Out of those, I picked the three I thought I could act best with.”
The thesp, whose credits include HBO’s “The Deuce,” “The Honorable Woman,” “The Dark Knight,” “Donnie Darko” and “Secretary,” said she’s drawn to stories with unusual themes. “I’m just approaching this the way I’d make any movie,” she said. “I definitely want to defer to (the filmmakers) but I also want them to know what it’s like to work with an actor.”
Kevin Spacey, Willem Dafoe, Uma Thurman and Adrien Brody have previously taken starring roles in the Jameson First Shot competition.
This week, Gyllenhaal is heading to L.A., where the three contest winners are preparing to shoot their films with guidance from Spacey and Brunetti.
“There are many competitions out there, but few if any that offer the chance to direct award-winning talent,” Brunetti said in a statement. “Year after year we’ve managed to meet and exceed expectation when it comes to who signs on — Maggie’s participation this year is a testament to that. I’m looking forward to seeing what these finalists can do with such an amazing actress.”
“The world of film can sometimes be a hard one to break in to and it is our privilege to be able to open the door to some genuinely exciting new talents through Jameson First Shot,” Spacey said in a prepared statement.
Watch a video of the three Jameson First Shot winners being surprised:
More info on the competition, now in its fifth year, is available at jamesonfirstshot.com and on its Vimeo channel.