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Perfect - What We Know So Far

It's no secret to anyone that artistic gymnastics is one of the most beautiful sports in the world, but what doesn't get said often enough is that it's also one of the most thrilling. The degree of skill, physical strength, concentration, and perfectionism it requires at the international level is borderline superhuman and often makes for some of the most incredible stories in the world of sports. At the 2020 Summer Olympics alone, we were treated to such heroics as Oksana Chusovitina breaking all age boundaries by competing at her eighth consecutive Games, Rebeca Andrade bouncing back from three ACL surgeries to earn two historical medals for Latin America without a full team by her side, and a twisties-addled Simone Biles proving her GOAT-ness by snagging a balance beam bronze even with a simplified routine (via Global Citizen).

American fans who have been following Team USA's transformation into a gymnastics powerhouse over the past 30 years will remember one of those history-making moments at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, courtesy of the great Kerri Strug. The incredible, yet ambivalent story of this national sports icon is being given the Hollywood treatment by director Olivia Wilde, and we couldn't be more excited. Here's everything we know so far about "Perfect."

When will Perfect be released?

As originally reported by Deadline, "Perfect" began its journey to the screen when screenwriter Ronnie Sandahl and director Olivia Wilde brought it to the European Film Market at Berlinale 2020. Adapted from the book "Landing On My Feet: A Diary Of Dreams" by Kerri Strug and John P. Lopez, "Perfect" sparked a bidding war following a buzzy presentation by Wilde, and Searchlight Pictures ultimately beat out A24, WB, Paramount, and HBO Max in the race to acquire the project.

A year later, in May 2021, a follow-up announcement by Deadline included the information that "production is expected to start top of 2022." It makes sense that Wilde should be holding off on turning her full attention to the film for now, as she's currently busy finishing up her star-studded "Booksmart" follow-up, "Don't Worry Darling." Unfortunately, the distance from the beginning of the shoot for "Perfect" means that there's no official word yet on a possible release schedule.

Assuming the production takes the usual amount of time for a sports drama, principal photography could be concluded by mid-2022 or earlier, in which case an awards-friendly late 2022 release could, in theory, be feasible. But it's still much too soon to make that call, especially seeing as Wilde will be juggling back-to-back directorial efforts and the attendant press cycles.

Who will be in the cast of Perfect?

Once Searchlight Pictures closed the deal on "Perfect," Wilde set out on an "extensive research" process to find the ideal actress for the main role. After meeting with several actresses, she and studio execs were equally blown away by Thomasin McKenzie's audition, and she was chosen as their Kerri Strug (via Deadline). The film marks yet another instance of McKenzie's rapid rise through industry ranks, which started with her phenomenal breakout performance in Debra Granik's indie drama "Leave No Trace" and followed on through the Oscar-nominated "Jojo Rabbit," with the leading role in Edgar Wright's "Last Night in Soho" still to come this year. The last time a Granik film catapulted a promising young actress into Hollywood, it was Jennifer Lawrence — and all signs point to McKenzie having the chops to follow in her footsteps.

Just recently, fellow up-and-coming young actress Mckenna Grace ("Troop Zero") was also cast in "Perfect," in an as-yet-undisclosed role, according to Deadline. Given the movie will be centered around the Atlanta Olympics, we're likely to see an exciting rollout of casting announcements in the coming months, as actresses are found for each of the gymnasts in the iconic "Magnificent Seven" 1996 U.S. women's gymnastics lineup.

What will Perfect be about?

Nowadays, the United States' dominance in women's artistic gymnastics is a given. But at the 1996 Summer Olympic games, Team USA was still fighting tooth-and-nail to join the club of team all-around champions for the first time. And they did — by a hair.

It was all down to the final vault by Kerri Strug, and the final floor routine by Russia's Rozalia Galiyeva, per Eurosport. If Strug scored 9.493 or higher, she'd cinch the gold. On her first attempt, she underrotated a 1.5 Yurchenko, causing her to twist her ankle and fall; her score was 9.162. Despite her injury, Strug's coaches encouraged her to perform the second attempt she was allowed — and she aced it, scoring 9.712. The image of coach Béla Károlyi carrying her to the top of the podium became legendary, and Strug was celebrated as a national hero.

Yet some have argued the toll that moment took on Strug has been lost in the shuffle. The two torn ligaments ended her career prematurely, and it later turned out that her second attempt wasn't even needed to secure the gold, as Galiyeva performed poorly on floor. With Simone Biles' withdrawal from multiple Tokyo events provoking a conversation about the unhealthy pressure that society puts on athletes, Wilde and Sandahl's film — described as an "intimate and unflinching portrait of grit and determination" — has the potential to be both a stirring tribute to the ecstasy of artistic gymnastics and an urgent grappling with a nation's bottomless hunger for gold.