Why Would Sandra Bullock Want to Make a Movie About Wendy Davis?

Haven’t gotten enough of Wendy Davis? Does that name ring a bell? You know, the former Texas state senator who filibustered an anti-abortion bill four years ago?

Of course you remember her. If you are anything like the 4,500 people who bought her book, you must be jumping at the news that Sandra Bullock has agreed to star in a speculative movie about the failed gubernatorial candidate who hasn’t held public office in two years.

I know what you are thinking: I loved her filibuster, but how are they going to pack all that excitement into a two-hour film? Aren’t they going to have to cut a lot of plot? In fact, it’s going to be even tougher to condense than that, as the film is being described by the Houston Chronicle as a “biopic of Davis’ life and her rise from a teen mom living in a trailer park.” One hopes they will get the story right, unlike Davis during her most recent campaign.

It’s surprising someone hasn’t already made this film. After all, appetite for all things Davis is intense. Why, Wendy Davis memorabilia is in such high demand that a blogger for the conservative Free Beacon walked away with a pair of her trademark pink sneakers at her estate sale in Ft. Worth in 2016. Apparently, Davis has settled in Austin even without a state senate seat.

Her legislative story, too, lends itself to the big screen: Davis hasn’t just done one filibuster. She’s done two filibusters! She even filibustered a budget bill at the close of the 2011 legislative session. As occurred in 2013, her filibuster then didn’t stop the bill, but it did delay it.

In fact, her famous eleven-hour filibuster (which is sometimes incorrectly inflated to thirteen hours by liberal-leaning outlets) was so unbelievable that only three U.S. senators have filibustered for longer in the three years since her feat. It might have happened four times, too, but Rand Paul gave up half an hour short of that goal in 2015. He might have thought he had nothing to prove, having already gone thirteen hours during a filibuster in 2013.

But why a movie? Davis has already been the subject of a proposed TV series that never made it into production. In 2015, an NBC producer was supposedly working with her on a project about a losing Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate who “discovers that with no political future to protect, she can unshackle her inner badass.” Nothing has since come of the series, which was said to be loosely based on her life. (I can see where they got the “no political future” part.)

Feeling apparently unshackled, real-life Davis has now unleashed herself on the speech circuit, where she isn’t exactly in demand. She has headlined forums like the local Chester County Democratic Women’s Leadership Initiative spring event—hardly a TED talk. She signed up with a speaker’s bureau, the Harry Walker Agency, but seems to have limited appeal; among the six groups listed that she has spoken to, half are local Planned Parenthood agencies.

In an interview with Refinery 29, Davis said, “I honestly never believed something like this would happen” (before stating in the next sentence how many people were telling her after the filibuster that a film should be made about her). Indeed, she might be right. The movie idea is still in the early stages of development and might very well end up suffering the same fate as her TV series.

But if it does happen, let’s hope it doesn’t end up like her gubernatorial campaign, which resulted in her net favorability rating dropping from +6 to -4 during the election. As one of her advisers wrote in a memo during the campaign, “There is not a model where a candidate who appears this liberal and culturally out of touch gets elected statewide anywhere in the south—much less in Texas—without incubation.”

One suspects (hopes?) the same will hold true for her proposed movie.

Image: Flickr/Gage Skidmore CC

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