Anna Kendrick to Make Directorial Debut with True-Life Thriller 'The Dating Game' : 'Meant to Be'

"My house has sort of turned into a Beautiful Mind-style collage of sticky notes and inspirations," The Dating Game director Anna Kendrick jokes to PEOPLE

Award Presenter Anna Kendrick poses in her award show look for the EE British Academy Film Awards 2021 on April 11, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Due to COVID-19 restrictions nominees will be attending virtually alongside a virtual audience.
Anna Kendrick. Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty

Anna Kendrick will sit in the director's chair for the first time for The Dating Game.

Kendrick, 37, is set to direct, produce and star in the upcoming thriller based on a true story, from a Black List script by Ian MacAllister McDonald, according to a release obtained by PEOPLE. Principal photography is set to commence late next month.

The release describes The Dating Game as "the stranger-than-fiction true story of Cheryl Bradshaw, who was a bachelorette on the hit '70s TV matchmaking show The Dating Game and chose handsome and funny bachelor number one, Rodney Alcala."

"But behind Alcala's charming façade was a deadly secret: he was a psychopathic serial killer," the synopsis adds.

Kendrick makes her feature-film directorial debut with the "edge-of-your-seat thriller" and is also set to play Cheryl, "the young woman whose life hung in the balance as her fairy tale date took a dark and twisted turn," the release says.

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Anna Kendrick
Anna Kendrick. Isa Foltin/Getty

Kendrick says in the release that she "loved this script from the moment I read it," adding, "And while I was obviously thrilled to be playing the character of Cheryl, I felt so connected to the story, the tone, and the themes around gender and intimacy, that when the opportunity came up to direct the film, I jumped at it."

Alcala's reign of terror spanned more than a decade. He preyed on young women, luring some of them by telling them he was a professional photographer who wanted to enter their pictures in a photography contest. After killing them, Alcala placed their bodies in grotesque poses, sometimes photographing them.

The serial killer and rapist was sentenced to death in 2010 for the murder of 12-year-old Robin Samsoe, as well as the 1970s rapes and murders of Georgia Wixted, Jill Parenteau, Charlotte Lamb and Jim Barcomb. Alcala died of natural causes in July 2021.

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Kendrick tells PEOPLE she has "been attached to [the] script" for The Dating Game "as an actress and producer for more than two years," when she was met with the opportunity to also direct.

"It was one of those moments where you're like ... it's so perfect and so meant to be," she continues. "I pushed myself off the cliff of pitching myself to direct it."

According to the A Simple Favor star, "everybody's been so supportive" of her newest venture, for which she's "beyond excited and also terrified," among "all the big feelings" surrounding it.

"But it's such a dream," Kendrick says, joking, "Right now, my house has sort of turned into a Beautiful Mind-style collage of sticky notes and inspirations and photographs and stuff. It looks like I'm trying to solve my daughter's kidnapping or something."

"But yeah, I'm so excited, because it's a very performance-driven script," she adds. "And I love watching good actors act, so I can't wait to get started."

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