“But what I really want to do is direct.” For many dilettante actors hoping to try their hand on the other side of the camera, these have been famous last words, the first omen heralding an indulgent personal project destined for a coolly-received festival debut. But all it takes is a performer with their head on straight and a little filmmaking knowhow to skirt the many pitfalls of the actor-turned-director’s debut. Jonah Hill seems pretty self-aware, he’s got a good sense of humor, and he’s worked with such fine directors as Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, and the Coen brothers. The news that he’s preparing his first outing as a director may be cause for optimism.

Yesterday, Deadline brought news that Michelle Williams has entered negotiations to take the lead in the first film du Hill, currently titled Mid-90s. The film chronicles one boy’s coming-of-age in Los Angeles during the tail end of the 20th century, as he struggles with the responsibilities of adulthood and ambles around with his skate rat buddies. The kid’s got a lot weighing on his shoulders, with an abusive older brother, a mother who needs more caring herself than she gives to her children (this would be Williams’ role), and a gang of friends he gradually realizes he can’t relate to. The project sounds like Freaks and Geeks one generation later; certainly not a bad place to start.

Nothing has been confirmed as of yet, possibly because Williams’ representation wants to wait a month until Oscar night, so they can ask for more money in the event that Williams brings home the Best Supporting Actress gold for her performance as an emotionally wounded townie in Manchester by the Sea. But there’s a lot to inspire hope in this gestating project. Here’s to hoping Hill’s first go behind the camera is more Ordinary People than Beyond the Sea.

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