Beloved Saturday Night Live alum Bill Hader and star of HBO’s Insecure, Issa Rae, have signed on to co-star in a dark comedy that’s got something for everyone. The film, titled Empress of Serenity, comes from writer and director Jesse Andrews (who earned a cult fan base with 2015’s intensely emotional Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), producer Stephen Chbosky (author of coming-of-age staple The Perks of Being a Wallflower), and production company Mr. Mudd (helmed by the John Malkovich, the company’s been behind films like Ghost World, Juno, and Art School Confidential).
With that team steering the ship, Empress of Serenity is guaranteed to be a smartly scripted, deeply emotional story – and Hader and Rae, both phenomenal comic actors known for their surprisingly deft dramatic chops, seem like the perfect pair to bring Andrews’ quirky characters to life.
The Hollywood Reporter says that “Hader will play a man whose elaborate plan to win back his ex-wife is upended when he is guilted into a month-long cruise with his widowed father.” Rae will play “a reclusive kindred spirit in the cabin next door who becomes both aid and obstacle” to his plans.
This will be Rae’s first major film role; currently, she stars in Insecure, the HBO show she co-created with Larry Willmore that’s about to start its second season. Hailed for her sharp wit and ability to relay the true awkwardness of the everyday, Rae seems like a perfect counterpart to Hader’s typically bumbling leading man.
Since leaving SNL, Hader’s chosen his roles wisely, spending the majority of his time on stuff that’s probably pretty personally satisfying – like Documentary Now, the IFC series he co-produces with Seth Meyers and Fred Armisen, and Popstar, the latest film from his pals The Lonely Island, and The Skeleton Twins, the 2014 dramedy where he played Kristen Wiig’s mess of a brother. What do all those things have in common? They’re all incredible, critically acclaimed comedies – that barely anyone’s seen.
It’s not to say Hader isn’t crazy busy – he’s voiced characters in huge animated films over the past few years, including Finding Dory, Monsters University, and Ice Age, while appearing in many other things. And Documentary Now, with each episode a meticulously detailed parody of a popular doc film, must take a lot of time to perfect.
But frankly, for those who lived through the dark years where a post-SNL Rob Schneider terrorized box offices with “hits” like Hot Chicks and The Animal, the fact that Hader chooses to stick to smaller, better scripted projects is beyond refreshing – and with every new project, he’s cementing his role as one of our generation’s most iconic comic artists, Stefon and all.
Empress of Serenity is set to start shooting later this summer.