Screenwriter Gillian Flynn: Mastermind of Mystery

On this day in 2018, Widows was released in theaters. A gripping crime thriller about a group of widows avenging the murders of their husbands, Widows is the work of the thriller mastermind herself, Gillian Flynn. 

Gillian Flynn is a contemporary American author and screenwriter renowned for her gripping psychological thrillers, always with compelling and complex female leads. Gillian earned a bachelor’s degree in English and journalism from the University of Kansas and later pursued a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. She then worked as a police reporter, before deciding to pursue fiction writing. Her training as a journalist and her work reporting crimes proved instrumental in crafting the types of narratives that would become her hallmark. 

Gillian’s debut book – Sharp Objects – was also her breakthrough.

Gillian’s debut book was also her breakthrough. Sharp Objects, published in 2006, is a psychological thriller revolving around Camille Preaker, a journalist with a troubled past who returns to her hometown to cover a series of brutal murders of young girls in town. The female characters in Sharp Objects marked the start of Gillian’s propensity for exploring the dark and complicated sides of womanhood, touching on troubled mother-daughter relationships, self harm, and societal deviance. Sharp Objects was later adapted into an acclaimed television series starring Amy Adams. 

Gillian’s most well-known work was Gone Girl, which she published in 2012. Another psychological thriller, this novel follows Nick Dunne, whose wife Amy disappears on their fifth wedding anniversary. Exploring a marriage gone awry and the reverberations of a missing woman, Gone Girl’s unreliable narrators and unexpected twists captivated readers globally, making it a runaway bestseller. In 2014, Gone Girl was adapted into a film, for which Gillian wrote the script. The film enraptured audiences just as the book had, and was one of the few film adaptations in this world to be (almost) as good as the book. Gillian’s involvement in the screenwriting marked a new chapter for her, as she began her foray into the film world. 

In 2018, Gillian wrote the screenplay for the film Widows…

In 2018, Gillian wrote the screenplay for the film Widows, an adaptation of the television series of the same name. The film follows a group of women who plan a heist after their criminal husbands are killed in a failed robbery. Each of the four leading women are complex and compelling in their own way, coming together from different ethnic and class backgrounds to seek revenge. As FF2 Contributor Sophia Jin says in her review of the film: “Widows allows women, and women of ethnic minorities, to take power and control in an almost all male action story.”

Gillian has truly made a monumental contribution to the zeitgeist of women in film, producing female characters laden with a full range of nuance and a true dark side. Furthermore, she is one of the greats in the world of thrillers, with a razor-sharp narrative style and an unflinching exploration of the sinister underbelly of our society. Whether it’s a novel or a film, Gillian leaves audiences eagerly anticipating each new twist and turn she unveils in her stories. 

© Julia Lasker (11/16/2023) — Special for FF2 Media


Read Sophia Jin’s review of Widows here.

Watch Widows here.

Read Sharp Objects here.

Watch Sharp Objects here.

Read Gone Girl here.

Watch Gone Girl here.


Featured photo: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in GONE GIRL (2014), directed by David Fincher and adapted by Gillian Flynn from her 2012 novel of the same name. Photo Credit: Atlaspix / Alamy Stock Photo. Image ID: EP7GY0

Middle photo: Viola Davis as Veronica Rawlings in the film WIDOWS (2018), screenplay by Gillian Flynn. Photo Credit: Moviestore Collection Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo. Image ID: RF1X1J

Bottom photo: Gillian Flynn arrives for the premiere of SHARP OBJECTS (starring Amy Adams) on HBO, at Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles, CA on June 26, 2018. Photo Credit: Elizabeth Goodenough / Everett Collection / Alamy Live News. Image ID: P5J5FK

Tags: Amy Adams, female thriller writer, Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl, Julia Lasker, Rosamund Pike, Sharp Objects, Sophia Jin, thriller books, thrillers, Viola Davis, Widows

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As an associate for FF2 Media, Julia writes reviews and features for films made by women. She is currently a senior at Barnard College studying Psychology. Outside of FF2, her interests include acting, creative writing, thrift shopping, crafting, and making and eating baked goods. Julia has been at FF2 for almost 4 years, and loves the company and its mission dearly.
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