Here’s a great opportunity to hear some behind-the-scenes goodies about ‘Water for Elephants’!! I wish I could attend this event…
Richard LaGravenese is a word artist. His screenplays, from 1991’s Academy Award-nominated “The Fisher King” to “Water For Elephants” which opens today, are portraits for the screen.
LaGravenese and actor Mark Povinelli will appear Saturday at Cinemas Palme d’Or in Palm Desert after the 6:30 p.m. screening of “Water For Elephants.”
Weekend recently spoke to the writer by phone from his home in New York.
QUESTION: How did you get involved with “Water For Elephants”?
ANSWER: The director, Francis Lawrence, and producer, Erwin Stoff, both wanted me to write the screenplay. I’d read the book and loved the world it created. I love classic black-and-white period movies. and these were the same things that Francis wanted represented in the film.
What changes from the book did you have to make?
When a book is made into a film it becomes the literal translation of the story. When you read (the book), it’s personal and subjective because you’re in your own little word.
When you bring a book like “Water For Elephants” to the screen, you have to encapsulate it into two hours so that the entire audience can share it. We didn’t want to bring the audience back and forth in time, so we started at the end of the book, when Jacob is in the old age home and tells it as he remembers what happened.
The world in 1931 that (writer) Sara (Gruen) created was so rich, I wanted to stay there. I didn’t want to sacrifice the mood of the story by moving back and forth in time.
You studied acting. Has that helped in your writing?
Studying acting was wonderful for understanding writing for characters. But I’ve always been a writer. Originally I started out writing comedy, and being an actor helped me to understand how events can be created.
I’ve always been interesting in observing people, that’s just fascinated me all my life.
Can we talk about upcoming projects? Next is “Liberace.”
It’s a project I’ve been working on with Steven Soderbergh, based on Liberace’s biography, for about three years; but between his schedule and mine, it’s taken a while. Now, it looks like it’s finally going to start filming later this year, for release next year or the year after.
The story is told from his lover, Scott Thorson’s (Matt Damon) point of view. (Michael Douglas has been attached to the project as Liberace.) It’s the story of their life together, and it’s really a fascinating story, in my opinion.
Q&A with screenwriter Richard LaGravenese and actor Mark Povinelli
When: Following the 6:30 p.m. Saturday screening of “Water For Elephants”
Where: Cinemas Palme d’Or, Westfield Palm Desert, 82-840 Highway 111, Palm Desert
Information: (760) 779-0730; thepalme.com