Sound of Metal star Hillary Baack is ready to challenge everything you think you know about the life of iconic disability rights activist Helen Keller in a new biopic.
In a joint interview at the Toronto International Film Festival with Elliot Page and director Dominic Savage about their new independent drama Close to You, Baack tells EW that she's excited to bring a new side of Keller's life to the big screen, inspired by oft-told adaptations of Keller's 1903 book The Story of My Life, including Arthur Penn's 1962 film The Miracle Worker.
"Her story is always something that's meant a lot to me. I remember as an adult I watched The Miracle Worker again, and I was like, wait, what else happened after she was seven and said, 'water'? I started reading about her and just found so many incredible things about her life that I didn't know, and I felt like most people didn't know," Baack says. "I, of course, as a deaf and disabled woman myself, felt such a personal and deep connection with her, and I saw her just as a woman and a human. Most people just don't see her that way, and I thought it would be exciting to share and tell that story and really tell her story as a human, not so much an inspiring character that we look up to and say, 'How did she do that?' but to really get to know her."
Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic; Hulton Archive/Getty Hillary Baack and Helen Keller
Baack hopes that her film — which she's planning to write, direct, and star in — will inspire "an effect on people" and "continue to open their hearts and their minds when they meet someone who's not like themselves, and remember we're all human, no matter how different or hard to understand that might be."
In addition to versions of The Miracle Worker on stage and screen, Keller's life story as a deaf and blind woman was also previously planned as a new film set to star A Quiet Place's Millicent Simmonds as Keller and Marvelous Mrs. Maisel star Rachel Brosnahan as Keller's translator, Anne Sullivan, though no new developments have been announced on the status of that project.
A release date for Baack's Keller biopic has yet to be announced.
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