Audiences and critics alike have gone wild for Lady Bird, writer-director Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age tale about a teenager (Saoirse Ronan) chafing against the restrictions of school, family, and life in Sacramento, “the mid-west of California.” Here are 10 hella tight facts about the film, which is nominated for five Oscars.
1. GRETA GERWIG WORE A PROM DRESS ON-SET.
Greta Gerwig got into the high school spirit of things by wearing a prom dress to shoot Lady Bird’s prom scenes. Gerwig described the pink prom dress Lady Bird wears as “a little tip of the hat for Pretty in Pink.”
2. THE FIRST DRAFT OF THE SCRIPT WAS A MONSTER.
Gerwig began writing Lady Bird in December 2013, eventually landing on a first draft that was a whopping 350 pages long. (If filmed at that length, it would have been more than five hours long.)
3. ITS STAR IS GAGA OVER BRIDESMAIDS.
4. GERWIG BARED HER SOUL TO JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, ALANIS MORISSETTE, AND DAVE MATTHEWS.
In order to secure the rights to early ’00 staples “Cry Me a River,” “Hand in My Pocket,” and “Crash Into Me,” Gerwig wrote personal letters to Justin Timberlake (“You were the soundtrack to my adolescence. Your rise corresponded exactly with my very awkward puberty”), Alanis Morissette (“I saw the film DOGMA because I read that you played God, which seemed totally fitting to me”), and Dave Matthews (“The song ‘Crash Into Me’ was and is the most romantic song ever”).
5. LUCAS HEDGES KEPT HIS CHARACTER’S PUKA SHELL NECKLACE.
Lucas Hedges, who plays Lady Bird’s theater kid paramour Danny, was outfitted in baggy khakis and a puka shell necklace typical of Lady Bird’s 2002 setting. After Hedges was done filming, he kept the necklace.
6. JOHN HUGHES, STEPHEN SONDHEIM, AND HOWARD ZINN WERE AMONG THE REQUIRED HOMEWORK.
Ronan, Hedges and Timothée Chalamet (who plays bad boy Kyle) got research packets of movies, books, and songs from Gerwig to help them relate to their characters. In Hedges's: “Seasons of Love” from Rent, Aimee Mann’s “Save Me” from Magnolia, and Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along and Sunday in the Park with George. For Chalamet: Howard Zinn's A People’s History of the United States, The Internet Does Not Exist (per Gerwig, “an essay collection that warns of the dangers of a networked world”), and Eric Rohmer’s My Night at Maud’s. Ronan got Joan Didion books, Paper Moon, and John Hughes’s Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles.
7. SAOIRSE RONAN’S ACNE PLAYED A PIVOTAL ROLE.
Jacqueline Knowlton, the head of Lady Bird’s makeup department, suggested that Ronan’s acne not be covered up. “I thought it was a really good opportunity to let a teenager’s face in a movie actually look like a teenager’s face in real life,” Ronan said.
8. GERWIG IS ONE OF ONLY FIVE WOMEN IN HISTORY TO RECEIVE AN OSCAR NOMINATION FOR BEST DIRECTOR.
Greta Gerwig is only the fifth woman in the Oscars’ 90-year history to be nominated for Best Director. The only other female directors to receive the nod are: Lina Wertmüller for Seven Beauties in 1977, Jane Campion for The Piano in 1994, Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation in 2004, and Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2010. So far, Bigelow is the only woman to walk home with the golden statuette.
9. THERE WERE ON-SET DANCE PARTIES.
The Lady Bird set had all the normal accouterments: craft services tables, trailers … and dance parties. “We would cry, we would laugh,” Ronan told W Magazine. “We'd have dance parties when we rehearsed. Lucas [Hedges] and I went over to [Gerwig’s] apartment one time and I can't even remember what we played, but we just danced for so long that we got really emotional. She'd play a lot of music on set. It was great. It's good having music around because it subconsciously makes people sort of move to the same beat.”
10. IT PAYS TRIBUTE TO THE LEGACY OF ELAINE STRITCH.
Ronan’s performance of “Everybody Says Don’t” in the scene where Lady Bird auditions for her school musical was inspired by late Broadway legend Elaine Stritch’s rendition of the song. While looking for inspiration for the performance, Ronan told Vulture that she came across “a still photograph of her leaning up against the piano and she’s like half-talking, half-singing the song. She sounded like a real dame, a real broad, and I thought, 'Okay, that’s what I’m gonna do.'"