Spotlight On: Elizabeth Debicki

The 2019 Women In Film Max Mara Face of the Future®:
Elizabeth Debicki

Photo by Jacopo Raule for Getty Images

As we approach the 2019 Women In Film Annual Gala, we are excited to profile each of our distinguished honorees. We hope that you’ll be able to join us on Wednesday, June 12, for what is sure to be the event of the summer: an inspiring and lively night celebrating women who are changing the entertainment industry for good.

One extraordinarily talented woman, Elizabeth Debicki, has been named as this year’s Women In Film Max Mara “Face of the Future” in recognition of her acting achievements and embodiment of timeless style and grace. Her debut as the 14th person to hold this distinction came in February at the Max Mara Fall/Winter 2019 Fashion Show in Milan, Italy.

That evening, Debicki spoke of “very positive changes and progress” being made in Hollywood in the context of women’s empowerment.

“It’s definitely changing. I am seeing it personally in terms of the type of work that I am being sent; there is much more a focus on championing women’s stories. … In terms of the number of scripts I am reading, where the central characters are women, and the stories are written for women, produced and directed by women. Just in terms of evolution, we are seeing various types of women’s stories, and that as an artist is my job, to run the gamut and not tell one specific story. It’s really good progress—it’s slow, like any progress, and not necessarily linear—but it’s happening.”

Women’s Wear Daily covered the fashion show. “Asked if she herself was considering producing or directing, she said, ‘Yes, and I am impatient for it to happen. As you get older, you experience more work and you hone your instincts in terms of what you want to tell.'”

Debicki first made her mark in 2013 when she appeared in Baz Lurhmann’s critically-acclaimed film adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Her performance as Jordan Baker earned her an Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Ever since, she has embodied a diverse scope of characters in film, television, and theater. She’s received accolades for her performances as Jed on “The Night Manager” and Dr. Anna Macy on “The Kettering Incident.” In feature films, Debicki has taken on complex roles in genres ranging from science fiction (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, VOL. 2 and THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX) to action (WIDOWS) and drama (THE TALE). She has also starred in the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of THE MAIDS alongside Cate Blanchett and Isabelle Huppert.

The Los Angeles Times profiled Debicki as the “standout” cast member of 2018’s WIDOWS. The article quoted directors who spoke highly of her when they’d worked on projects together. “Director Susanne Bier, who won an Emmy for her work on ‘The Night Manager,’ recalled what led her to cast Debicki.

“‘There was a danger with that character that it could have been the classical sort of eye candy,’ Bier said. ‘Not to say Elizabeth is not eye candy, but she’s not a cliché, and I really wanted to avoid the cliché of a gangster’s hot girlfriend. She’s like an amazing, astounding beauty, but she’s not your standard hot blond, trophy girlfriend. She’s just very different. She adds so much depth to everything she does.’

“[Director Steve] McQueen recalled a specific moment during a scene in WIDOWS where the four women are in a warehouse preparing for the heist. [Viola] Davis’ character has had them place dirt into small plastic containers to replicate the weight of the cash they will be hauling off and how much they can carry in different denominations.

“‘Elizabeth picks up the Tupperware, looks at it and shakes it and feels the weight of it,’ McQueen said. ‘And it reminds me so much of someone like Steve McQueen in THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, when he’s got the scatter gun and he rattles it before he loads the gun. I mean, it’s just gold. No, I never said to her to do that.

“‘She picked up that Tupperware box and felt the weight of it and then put it back,’ he said. ‘It’s kind of minuscule, but that’s what the audience is doing anyway. And she’s doing it for them. You can’t buy that. You can’t teach that. You just have to have it.'”

Join us at the 2019 Women In Film Annual Gala as we celebrate Elizabeth Debicki and the rest of our honorees, on June 12, 2019 at the Beverly Hilton. Click the image below to purchase tickets.

Past Recipients of the Women In Film Max Mara Face of the Future Award

The Women In Film Max Mara Face of the Future Award, inaugurated at Women In Film’s 2006 Crystal + Lucy Awards®, is given to an actress who is experiencing a turning point in her career through her work in the film and television industries, through her contributions to the community at large, in recognition of her outstanding achievements, and her embodiment of style and grace.

Alexandra Shipp, 2018