Logan Lucky has been in the news since Monday, when the embargo was lifted and a wave of positive reviews came in, the worst of the bunch still calling it “fun” and the best being outright raves. And in almost every one of those reviews, the writer had to make note of the first-time screenwriter behind it, Rebecca Blunt. But, as I’ve said before here, Blunt’s identity is in question. Her having not written anything before would be fine on its own (after all, Steven Spielberg is currently shooting a movie based on a first-timer’s script, and nobody’s batting an eye there), but Blunt’s complete absence of credits and public appearances raised a few suspicions, including my own. And today, my theory on her was proven correct.
This morning, the Blunt theories went from scattered speculation to full-scale news when the Hollywood Reporter picked up on her nonexistence. It reported that she was never on-set, and the only contact anyone allegedly had with her was thru emails to her “home” in the U.K. And it narrowed down the possible real writer to three candidates.
The first was Jules Asner, Soderbergh’s wife and former E! personality. I mentioned when the trailer was released that she was rumored to be “Blunt” (by someone on CriterionForum, months before), and the pieces fit together. She’s a writer, having penned the novel Whacked in 2008, and obviously she would have a better line to Soderbergh than anyone else, which would fit with the official story of Soderbergh getting handed the script to give to another director (it helped that Soderbergh kept referring to meeting Blunt through a friend or even through his wife). Plus, her being uncredited might be a way to avoid getting swamped with questions about her relationship with Soderbergh after his affair some years ago. So she’s an obvious candidate for being the “real” Blunt.
But maybe even more obvious was the second candidate, Soderbergh himself. His love of pseudonyms is well-known (despite reports to the contrary, Peter Andrews and Mary Ann Bernard are very much credited on Logan Lucky), and him getting handed the script to give to another director could be a Schizopolisian doppelganger situation (to say nothing of the mole and/or the spy in the production who leaked this information to Hollywood Reporter). But Soderbergh has not written anything since 2004, where he wrote his contribution to the anthology film Eros and cowrote the script to his first AD Gregory Jacobs’ directorial debut, Criminal. And he’s often gone on the record as feeling that he is not a writer and that writing is not something he particularly enjoys doing. Plus, he already has a writer’s pseudonym, which he used on Criminal and The Underneath, Sam Lowry (which really says it all about how much fun he finds writing). So it’s probably not him.
The third is by far the most left-field of the choices, John “Skunk-Boy” Henson. Host of Talk Soup and later Wipeout, Henson was a friend of Asner’s on E! and apparently keeps in touch with her and Soderbergh. Henson was even set to coproduce the Benicio Del Toro-starring mob thriller Making Jack Falcone with Soderbergh at one point. Henson writing this script would mean that Soderbergh has worked with hosts of two different incarnations of The Soup, which he could use as a bargaining chip to get Greg Kinnear for the Panama Papers movie.
Admittedly, even just looking at those options, Asner stands out as the likely winner, but any lingering doubt was erased later in the day when The Playlist revealed that, yes, the script is 100% Asner’s. The film is set in the home of Asner’s family, West Virginia, and loosely based on the “curse” that affects the White family in WV, who Asner is distantly related to. And in addition to that, Asner was on-set every day.
Soderbergh, to his credit, is still playing this coy, saying to Entertainment Weekly “Well, that’s going to be news to Rebecca Blunt”. He also said that “Blunt” is working on something and doesn’t want to do press until the movie is over, and that she was interviewed for the film’s press kit. Her press kit bio, complete with quotes, is presented below.
“The screenplay, given to him by his wife, Jules Asner, was written by their friend Rebecca Blunt.”
An Auspicious Screenwriting Debut
The Logan Lucky script represents a remarkable effort by first-time screenwriter Rebecca Blunt. Like the characters in her script, Blunt grew up in West Virginia. She briefly attended UCLA before moving to New York to hone her writing skills.
Blunt says Logan Lucky’s working-class anti-hero was inspired by the remarkable background of her friend Channing Tatum. “I wrote Jimmy Logan with Channing in mind because I see Jimmy as an alternative version of Chan’s own story,” she says. “Chan’s from a small southern town, I believe he won a football scholarship to play in Florida but ended up blowing out his knee before the season started, so he became a stripper. I thought of Logan Lucky as, ‘What if Chan hadn’t become a male stripper and had gone back home?’ I ran into Chan and his partner Reid at a bowling alley and mentioned the the idea to them — at the time I called it Hillbilly Heist — and Chan said, ‘That sounds great!’ I don’t know if he even remembers saying that and I never imagined all of this would really happen.”
Blunt fleshed out the film’s central plot based on a combination of news reports and her own imagination. “I heard about sinkholes at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, which is built on landfill. They brought in out-of-work coal miners to make repairs. With my West Virginia roots, I have a lot of sympathy for coal miners. I also had a fascination with pneumatic tubes from when I was a little kid and my mom would go to the drive-thru at the bank. She’d always let me put the money in the tube and it would magically take the money away to the teller.” Blunt gave the finished script to Soderbergh, “I wanted to see if Steven had any suggestions about directors I should go to with the script, since he’s made so many great heist movies,” Blunt says. “I was thinking he’d sworn off feature films so I was very surprised when he came back and said he wanted to direct it himself.”
Of course, all of that (right down to “Blunt” attending UCLA) would describe Asner without any modifications whatsoever, but this whole enterprise seems to speak rather sweetly of Asner not wanting to overshadow the movie at large and Soderbergh happily following her wishes. I will, of course, be assessing Blunt/Asner’s scriptwriting abilities the day Logan Lucky premieres, but I’m sure she did a great job. Let’s hope she doesn’t just work with Soderbergh, however. I’m continually frustrated by how limited that Roderick Jaynes fella’s collaborations are.