Today, Lisa Joy is known as one of the co-creators of HBO’s sometimes very good and sometimes frustrating Westworld, and as of this weekend she’s known as writer and directer or Reminiscence—now available on HBO Max and in theaters. Nearly 10 years ago, though, when she was first pitching her sci-fi noir romp to Hollywood, she considered trying to sell it to studios under a male pseudonym.
Joy, who had written for Pushing Daisies and Burn Notice at the time, told The Independent that she thought people might’ve taken the script “more seriously” if they thought it had been written by a man, since it’s a sci-fi action movie, and she worried that people might bring in an “implicit bias” about it not being “as action-packed or whatever” if they knew that it had been written by a woman. In the end, she decided to use her real name, explaining that it was “irresponsible” to pretend to be someone else. “I am a woman and I did write it,” she noted, and it’s “more about staking our claim in the world to have the same opportunities and to get the same compensation.” She also chose to sell the screenplay on the open market and was able to get a bidding war going, and that worked out better for her anyway. “I recommend that strategy,” she said.
Reminiscence is about a hard-boiled detective (Hugh Jackman) who investigates lost memories in a flooded city. The movie also stars Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton (from Joy’s Westworld), Cliff Curtis, and Marina de Tavira. In his review, A.V. Club film editor A.A. Dowd said that, in its best moments, the film “reaches past its own memories of the detective stories of yore, to something sadder and truer and more distinctive.”