'Pieces of a Woman': Meet Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Ellen Burstyn and rest of the cast of the controversial Netflix film
The cast for the film is no less impressive with the exception of Shia LaBeouf, whose career has nosedived again after he was sued for sexual battery. His actions have mired the film in controversy
'Pieces of a Woman', one of Netflix's award-oriented offerings follows Martha and Sean, a Boston couple on the verge of becoming new parents. But their lives change irrevocably when a home birth ends in unimaginable tragedy. Thus begins a year-long odyssey for Martha, who must navigate her grief while working through a fractious relationship with Sean and her domineering mother, along with the publicly vilified midwife, Eva, who Martha takes to court. Based on a screenplay by Kata Wéber, the film is directed by Kornél Mundruczó, with Martin Scorsese and Sam Levinson as executive producers. The cast for the film is no less impressive with the exception of Shia LaBeouf, whose career has nosedived again after he was sued for sexual battery. His actions have mired the film in controversy.
Vanessa Kirby is Martha
British actress Vanessa Kirby is best known to audiences for her award-winning portrayal of Princess Margaret on the acclaimed drama 'The Crown'. She immediately felt a connection to Martha when she read the script. “I read it in an hour and I knew I absolutely had to do it,” says Kirby. “I’d been looking for a part that scared me. This completely terrified me. It was a story that I hadn’t ever seen before on screen. It was something that people don’t often speak about, so I felt so strongly that it needed to be told.”
After the film premiered on September 4, 2020, at the 77th Venice International Film Festival, Kirby won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress for her portrayal of Martha. Kirby has also won a BAFTA as Best Supporting Actress on 'The Crown' and starred in films like 'Mission: Impossible – Fallout' and 'Hobbs & Shaw'. Kirby is currently in production on the next installment of the 'Mission Impossible' franchise, which is slated for release in 2021.
Shia LaBeouf is Sean
Shia LaBeouf plays Martha’s partner Sean, a construction worker who is devoted to her and delighted at the prospect of welcoming their child into the world. Although their relationship begins in a place of mutual respect and love, the tragedy forever changes the trajectory of their romance. According to scriptwriter Wéber, Sean has "something metaphorical about him -- someone whose passion is to build bridges, but now has to destroy them. I wanted to portray a sensitive man who is locked out of his partner’s love during the grieving period. Sean, in a completely natural way, wears his grief on his sleeve in contrast to Martha.”
LaBeouf had early successes as a child actor and a young actor from 2007 onwards with films like 'Disturbia', the 'Transformers' franchise, and 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull'. However, scandals in his personal life about increasingly bizarre behavior made him persona non grata for a while. After trying his hand at performance art and starring in Sia's controversial video 'Elastic Heart', he wrote and acted in a therapy-inspired film about his abusive childhood called 'Honey Boy'.
His star status seemed to have been rising again till he was sued by English musician FKA Twigs, whom he dated from 2018 to 2019, for sexual battery, assault and infliction of emotional distress. Since then, his name has been scrubbed from Netflix's 'For Your Consideration' page compiled for award shows.
Ellen Burstyn is Elizabeth
Playing the role of Martha’s mother, Elizabeth, is Emmy, Tony, and Academy Award-winning actress Ellen Burstyn. According to Burstyn, director Mundruczó 'White God' is one of her favorite films and Kirby's performance as Princess Margaret in 'The Crown' had impressed her. "When I understood that I would be playing her mother in a film directed by Kornel, I was thrilled. There was no possible answer for me but yes,” said Burstyn about being cast in the project. In the film, Burstyn portrays a wealthy widow and a Holocaust survivor who agrees with virtually none of the choices her daughter has made in her life so far. This is why Elizabeth proves to be a formidable force in bringing Martha’s emotions to the surface whether her daughter likes it or not. According to scriptwriter Wéber. “She’s a little bit monstrous. She’s very smart. You could say she’s a cold character, but at the same time, she has a knowledge of survival that she wants to pass on. She has good intentions, but for Martha, her actions are cruel.”
Burstyn is best known for starring in films like 'Requiem For a Dream', 'The Exorcist' and Martin Scorsese's 'Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore', which won her the Academy Award for Best Actress. She has also appeared in television series like 'Political Animals' and 'House of Cards', both of which earned her Emmy Award nominations.
Molly Parker is Eva
Emmy Award-winner Molly Parker is known for her work on the political drama 'House of Cards'. She was cast as Eva, the midwife who delivers Martha’s baby. Sued for contributing to the situation that resulted in the loss of the baby, she becomes one of the main recipients of Martha's grief and rage over her loss. Parker stars as Maureen Robinson in the hit Netflix series 'Lost in Space', which is set to shoot its third and final season later this year. Her recent films include 'Deadwood: The Movie' for HBO where she reprised her role as Alma Garret, Josephine Decker’s 'Madeline’s Madeline', Erroll Morris’ 'Wormwood' opposite Peter Sarsgaard, and Ewan McGregor’s 'American Pastoral'. Her upcoming films include 'Words on Bathroom Walls', and 'Jockey'. She has also written and directed the short film 'Bird'.
Sarah Snook is Suzanne
Sarah Snook plays Martha's cousin Suzanne, an attorney who pursues legal action against Eva for negligence at the behest of Martha’s mother. Snook is set to return as the scene-stealing Siobhan ‘Shiv’ Roy in Season 3 of HBO’s award-winning series 'Succession'. Most recently, she appeared in Brandon Trost’s comedy 'An American Pickle' with Seth Rogen on HBO Max. On television, she can be seen in AMC’s anthology drama series 'Soulmates' and in an episode of 'Black Mirror'. Snook’s first major role in America was in Danny Boyle’s 'Steve Jobs'. She delivered her most notable film performance as the complex lead “Jane/John” alongside Ethan Hawke in the science-fiction thriller 'Predestination', for which she received the AACTA Award and the Film Critics Circle of Australia award for Best Actress. Her other notable film credits include 'Winchester', 'The Glass Castle', 'Holding the Man', and 'The Dressmaker'.
'Pieces of a Woman' released in select theaters on December 30, 2020, and will be released digitally by Netflix on January 7, 2021.