Joy: Everything We Know About Netflix’s IVF Biopic Starring Bill Nighy

joy netflix movie bill nighy

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Netflix UK continues to commission and begin production on new shows and movies despite the ongoing Hollywood strikes. One of these new productions is a movie called Joy, based on the true story of the world’s first in vitro fertilization baby starring Bill Nighy, James Norton, and Thomasin Mackenzie.

Netflix’s Joy is helmed by director Ben Taylor, known for working on episodes of Netflix’s Sex Education. The screenplay was crafted by BAFTA winner Jack Thorne, who developed the script alongside his wife, Rachel Mason.

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ScreenDaily first scooped the new movie on September 23rd, 2023.

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Director Ben Taylor

Taylor said in a statement:

“I am a lifelong Jack Thorne fan, and it has been such a thrill to work with him and Rachel on my first feature film. As the proud father to two boys only made possible by IVF, this is a story extremely close to my heart. It’s an honour to bring to life the journey of this heroic trio, whose world-changing work was only achieved in the face of unimaginable opposition. Thomasin, James and Bill – together with the rest of the cast – are an embarrassment of riches. I’m delighted that Pathe, Wildgaze and Netflix entrusted me with this brilliant story.”

Jack Thorne added:

“It took Rachel and I seven rounds of IVF to have Elliott, so when the opportunity came to tell the story of the pioneers, I jumped at the chance and suggested Rachel might like to jump too, The more we discovered, the more amazed we were, at the audacity of the science and the lack of support from the scientific community. It is an incredible story. Working on this with our incredible cast, wonderful director Ben and the brilliant producers at Wildgaze, Pathe and Netflix has been a joy.”

Joy is produced by Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey from the UK’s Wildgaze production company, while Cameron McCracken serves as the executive producer for Pathe.

What’s the plot of Joy?

Here’s a brief description of Netflix’s Joy:

“Spanning from 1968 to 1978, the film will follow three trailblazers facing opposition from the church, state, media and medical establishment, in their pursuit of the world’s first ‘test tube baby’, Louise Joy Brown.”

The trailblazers in question are obstetrician and gynecologist Patrick Steptoe, physiologist Robert Edwards and nurse and embryologist Jean Purdy. The three of them were pioneers in reproductive medicine and Edwards was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 2010. Steptoe and Purdy weren’t awarded as by 2010 both were deceased and the Nobel prize isn’t awarded posthumously.

The film is titled after the middle name of Louise Joy Brown, the first human to be born from in vitro fertilization on July 25, 1978. Her birth, following a procedure pioneered in Britain, has been lauded among “the most remarkable medical breakthroughs of the 20th Century”.

Louise Brown celebrated her 40th Birthday in 2018 and a book was released around the same time.

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Who is cast in Netflix’s Joy?

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L-R: James Norton, Bill Nighy and Thomasin Mackenzie in Joy (Credit: Netflix)

The cast of Netflix’s Joy will be led by Bill Nighy (Love Actually, Hot Fuzz, Underworld), James Norton (Little Women, Happy Valley, McMafia) and Thomasin Mckenzie (JoJo Rabbit, Last Night in Soho). Nighy will play Patrick Steptoe, an obstetrician and gynecologist, Norton will play Robert Edwards, a physiologist and Mackenzie will portray Jean Purdy, a nurse and embryologist.

What’s the production status of Joy?

Production for Joy is currently underway in the UK. Cameras started rolling for the movie in September 2023 and will continue for several months.

What’s the Netflix release date of Joy?

Netflix hasn’t announced the official release date for Joy, but considering the production schedule, the movie releasing in the second half of 2024 would make most sense.

In the meantime, Netflixers in the United States can watch Bill Nighy’s excellent (and Oscar-winning) Living, which dropped on Netflix earlier this year as part of the Sony first window deal.

Are you looking forward to watching Joy on Netflix? Let us know in the comments down below.


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