Is The Great Lillian Hall based on a true story? All about the Jessica Lange movie

Jessica Lange and Lily Rabe as seen in a still from The Great Lillian Hall (Image via Facebook/@HBO)
Jessica Lange and Lily Rabe as seen in a still from The Great Lillian Hall (Image via Facebook/HBO)

Oscar-winner Jessica Lange takes center stage in the HBO television film The Great Lillian Hall. She stars as a veteran theater actress, Lillian Hall, in a movie directed by Michael Cristofer and based on a screenplay by Elisabeth Seldes-Annacone. The film premiered on HBO on May 31, 2024, and received mostly positive reviews.

The film chronicles a veteran thespian's slow decline into dementia and her ensuing struggles while preparing for a Broadway show, of which she is the star attraction. However, it is not based on a true story but loosely based on the screenwriter's aunt, stage actress Marian Seldes.

Learn more about the movie below that has received rave reviews for Jessica Lange's captivating performance.


Who is the inspiration behind Jessica Lange's latest movie, The Great Lillian Hall?

A still from the HBO drama The Great Lillian Hall starring Jessica Lange (Image via Facebook/HBO)
A still from the HBO drama The Great Lillian Hall starring Jessica Lange (Image via Facebook/HBO)

The film's inspiration is the theater actress Marian Seldes, a five-time Tony Award nominee. Among her most notable Broadway appearances were A Delicate Balance (1967), Father's Day (1971), Equus (1974–77), Deathtrap (1978–82), Ivanov (1997), Ring Round the Moon (1999), Dinner at Eight (2002), Deuce (2007), etc.

Seldes enjoyed a prolific acting career until the onset of dementia in her 80s. She passed away on October 6, 2014, at the age of 86.


The Great Lillian Hall or Places, Please?

The Jessica Lange-starrer was first announced in 2021 under a different title, 'Places, Please,' before the filmmakers settled on The Great Lillian Hall. Moreover, actresses Meryl Streep and Glenn Close were set to star in the lead roles in the past. After Lange was finalized, filming for the movie began in Georgia in May 2023 and wrapped up by the end of the month in June 2023.


Plot summary of The Great Lillian Hall

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With a runtime of 1 hour and 50 minutes, the official synopsis of The Great Lillian Hall is as follows:

"As beloved Broadway star Lillian Hall (Jessica Lange) pours her heart, soul, and time into preparing for her next role, she finds herself blindsided by confusion and forgetfulness."

It continues:

"Battling against all odds to make it to opening night while holding on to her fading memories and identity, she must navigate a tumultuous emotional journey: balancing her desire for the spotlight and the stark demands of the real world."

Jessica Lange's Lillian Hall is a highly-respected Broadway actress in the throes of preparing for a major Broadway production of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard by the edgy director David Flemming. However, her symptoms of dementia cause her to flub her lines, forget what scene she is acting in, mess up the blocking, and even lose her balance and fall flat on her face.

To make matters worse, she keeps hallucinating her late husband and theater director, Carson. Lillian's early onset dementia tests her relationships with her daughter Margaret Tanner, loyal assistant Edith Wilson, and handsome next-door neighbor Ty Maynard. She also has to grapple with her diagnosis and make peace with the end of her career while giving her last stage performance.


Cast and characters of The Great Lillian Hall

A still from the movie The Great Lillian Hall (Image via Facebook/HBO)
A still from the movie The Great Lillian Hall (Image via Facebook/HBO)

The film stars renowned Hollywood actors in important roles:

  • Jessica Lange as Lillian Hall
  • Kathy Bates as Edith Wilson
  • Lily Rabe as Margaret Tanner
  • Jesse Williams as David Flemming
  • Pierce Brosnan as Ty Maynard

Furthermore, its supporting cast includes, among others:

  • Michael Rose as Carson
  • Cindy Hogan as Jane Stone
  • Jonathan Horne as George Tanner
  • Clayton Landey as Alvin Williams
  • Keith Arthur Bolden as Dr. DeMayo

Stay tuned for the latest updates on movies and television shows released on HBO in 2024.

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Edited by Ivanna Lalsangzuali
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