Kristen Bell and Jonathan Groff have signed on to star in Molly And The Moon, an original musical film being developed by How I Met Your Mother creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas.
The duo will write and direct the film, while Harvey Mason Jr. (Sing, Pitch Perfect) will be the executive music producer, and Stephanie Diaz-Matos (The Get Down) will be the music supervisor.
The script reportedly has comedic elements but is grounded in realism, as it’s based on a personal crisis Thomas experienced shortly after How I Met Your Mother became a hit sitcom for CBS.
“Carter and I were running the show and between Season 2 and Season 3, my wife and I were having our first kid, a boy, Elliot”, Thomas explained to Deadline.
“We discovered after he was born that Elliot had Jacobsen Syndrome, a rare genetic deletion where a piece of one of the 11th chromosomes has broken off, resulting in the loss of certain genes that go into making a healthy, typical baby”.
It meant that Thomas had to watch his newborn son go through open heart surgery at just 2 weeks old, while the family spent six weeks in and out of the hospital, hoping their son lived through a surgery with a high mortality rate while also juggling the possibility of raising a child who might have lifelong health issues.
Bays and Thomas would realise this was a story they could tell, about a baby struggling to survive to go home with its parents and start life, and infuse it with music, which is what Thomas and his wife Rebecca used to sooth Elliot when they couldn’t hold him.
“I’m flashing back again to when he’s only a few weeks old, and we couldn’t hold our first-born child because he’s hooked up to so many wires and tubes”, Thomas said. “What do you do when you can’t hold your baby? You sing to your baby. Singing was our way of speaking to Elliot.
It started with a lullaby and just the sweet songs you sing to babies, but we soon ran out of those, and we just started singing everything from The Beatles to Aimee Mann, us standing next to the incubator as weeks went by.
That is the reason we made Molly And The Moon a musical, and to this day, music is such a part of what defines Elliot. It got him to stand up, and he walked and talked because of music”.
Bell will play protagonist Kate and Groff will play Brian, parents to baby Molly. They are both excellent singers who worked together on the Frozen films, while Groff has also performed in Hamilton.
Thomas said the film will be live-action, and that they’ve taken influences from movies such as Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal and Where The Wild Things Are.
Thomas and Bays explained that much of the premise stemmed from wondering what was going on in Elliot’s mind as he was going through this ordeal:
“He was having a more mythic, epic journey that I had in my three decades of life, all in his first couple of weeks of life”, Thomas said. “You hear phrases like, ‘Oh the surgery went well but he’s not out of the woods yet’, and we would wonder, what are the woods like, and how would you show them?”
This sounds different to How I Met Your Mother, for sure, but that show also embraced musical elements frequently. It will be interesting to see how Bays and Thomas adapt to the medium of film, and also how this real-life story translates into a musical. It should be a fascinating experience. And don’t worry, you can expect a happy ending, as Bays explains:
“There was no happier ending that I can recall from anyone’s life or anyone I know than the day Elliot, Craig, and Rebecca came home from the hospital, and an incredible journey culminated in just putting your baby down in the crib. It was…monumental”.