There’s an interesting project on the horizons that will team Sean Penn and Robert De Niro with Kristen Wiig, in what I expect to be America’s “Who saw that coming?” moment in terms of the actress’ dramatic abilities. As we heard back in June, Penn is directing The Comedian, a tale about an aging, acerbic standup comic named Jackie Burke (played by De Niro), who is clinging desperately to any remnants of his once prominent fame. After a violent incident at a nightclub, Burke is sentenced to community service, where he meets his femme fatale/Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Harmony, played by Wiig.
Bridesmaids made everybody realize what a comic sensation Wiig is. Maybe it will be Penn’s The Comedian that publicizes awareness of her dramatic talents as well. Plus, getting back into thick, gritty character pieces is just what De Niro needs to turn his career back around. And Penn…well, he’s doing fine. But this will probably be a pleasant experience for him as well.
Penn has not directed a feature since 2007’s Into the Wild. As a director, he is known for his large gaps between projects, possibly due to a careful deliberation regarding which films to work on. The Comedian seems like something Penn’s artistic, erratic sensibilities will suit well. The same applies to the central role in terms of De Niro. And as for Wiig? Well, we may not have seen her do hard drama just yet. But mark my words: once you get a glimpse of what she is capable of, you’ll be wiiggin’ out.