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David E. Kelley Talks ‘Wonder Woman’

3 min read

The pilot for Wonder Woman has been all manner of controversial from the start as the project has been bumped all over the place, had a surprising choice for a guiding hand of a creator, casting problems and certainly plenty of opinions about the costume itself. So into this mix, finally, comes David E. Kelley as he talks to The Vulture about the project towards the end of a lengthy piece about his various shows over the years and the troubles he’s had with both his hits and misses. It’s a solid read overall if you’re curious as to what his path has been like and why he made this choice, and why it’s likely to go in his “miss” column, unless the show goes to series and someone else steps in to really run the show.

Speaking of inviting scrutiny: Wonder Woman. Why did you decide to take this on?
Well I first said no, for all the obvious reasons. It’s not really what I do; it’s not a genre that’s in my wheelhouse. But then I started thinking about, What if there were such a person in today’s world and what must it be like to be her? And I was imagining the sense of social isolation that she must feel, that she indeed would probably be a rather complicated beast. When I started thinking about all the complications and potential layers to this superhero, I just got more and more intrigued. It was also something I was a little bit afraid of. That’s good, too. Any writer should get out of his or her comfort zone, and this was way outside of mine.

So I took a deep breath and decided to go for it. I did not truthfully commit to doing it until I wrote the script. I was going to try writing it, and if I failed on my own terms, I would say no. If I thought, Yeah, this is something I believe in, then I’d turn it in. And it was something I ultimately did get behind. It was hard, but I had a good time writing it. And Warner Bros. and DC both responded very positively — and off we went.

Then you had to find your Wonder Woman.
It was not an easy search, but it went far quicker than I ever imagined. After writing this script, I remember looking at several people and going, “Yeah, now good luck trying to find her.” She’s got to be strong, smart, emotionally accessible — and oh yeah, an Amazon! Good luck. I remember speaking to DC, and saying, “We may have to compromise on the physicality. We need to go with the best actress. And if the best actress is five-foot-five, we have to be open to that, because there’s too many layers for this character to also demand that she be nearly six feet tall.” And then lo and behold, in comes this girl named Adrianne Palicki.

I had seen her on Friday Night Lights and I always liked her work, but I didn’t get a sense of her stature. I guess he was sitting down in a lot of the scenes. So she stood up, and we met — eyeball to eyeball — she smiled … and I knew during the course of the conversation that thiswas Wonder Woman. I just knew it. I had an instinctive feeling that this was her. So then she read. And she was. And she is.

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