Elisabeth Moss will portray writer Shirley Jackson in an upcoming film

Actress Elisabeth Moss
Actress Elisabeth Moss
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

From “The Handmaid’s Tale” to “The Seagull” to “The Lottery” — Elisabeth Moss is on a roll with powerful fiction being brought to screens. But there’s a twist — soon we’ll see her playing writer Shirley Jackson.

Deadline reports that Moss, the Emmy Award-winning star of the Hulu series “The Handmaid'sTale,” will star alongside Michael Stuhlbarg, who will play Jackson’s husband, the literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman, in “Shirley,” based on a 2014 novel by Susan Scarf Merrell. The book is about a graduate student and his wife who move in with Jackson and Hyman, and grow fascinated with the writers’ relationship.

The film is set to be directed by Josephine Decker (“Thou Wast Mild and Lovely”); the screenplay was written by Sarah Gubbins (“I Love Dick”).


Decker praised Jackson and Gubbins for their talent at writing “wildly rich female characters.”

“I can’t wait to witness Elisabeth Moss’ visceral inhabitation of Shirley’s beautiful tortured spirit and Michael Stuhlbarg’s unflinchingly charismatic-while-cruel Stanley,” Decker said.

The reclusive Jackson, considered one of America’s most influential horror writers, was best known for the 1948 short story “The Lottery” and the novels “The Haunting of Hill House” and “We Have Always Lived in the Castle.”

A native of San Francisco, Jackson lived in Vermont for much of her life. She suffered from agoraphobia, and was usually reluctant to leave the home she shared with Hyman, their children and their 100,000 books.

She was plagued by health problems through much of her life, and died in 1965 at the age of 48.

Jackson was the subject of a National Book Critics Circle Award-winning 2016 biography, “Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life,” by Ruth Franklin. Reviewing the book for The Times, Scott Bradfield wrote, “There is no more welcome witchcraft than granting oneself the ability to write well until the day you die, and to this extent, at the very least, she bewitched.”

There’s no estimated release date yet for “Shirley,” which is scheduled to start filming this summer.