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MAKING sich W lae -Shawn Da"ViMamet l~on. Guamre Mchael Weller Steve Tesich '1 0 I-C' Steve Tesich (left) and Peter Yates on the set of Eyewitness You've had four film projects now back to back. Has screenwriting been your main concentration for the past three years? Yes, except for Division Street. That came after Breaking Away. Have you worked on other plays since that one? No, I really haven't felt the impulse. I Just follow my cycles. I'm working on a novel right now. That's been the primary thing for the past six or seven months . How long did it take you to prepare The World According to Garp? [The film will be released in 1982.] The first draft took about six or eight weeks. I work very fast when I sense how to do It. And all I do Is write. Off and on we've been working on slight revisions with the director, George Roy Hill, and the cast, and certain 21 elements got strengthened, certain story points got clarified better. But the central vision remained as written the first time around. It's a hrad novel to adapt for film, isn't it? It certainly is. It's a large, hefty movie. A lot of things had to be left out, and a lot of things had to be added that weren't in there. Because if you see a vision of how a movie should be done, then you remove certain things that are in the book. You have to have a focus that can't be the focus of the book because you don't have eight hours of screen time. Did you choose to isolate one narrative line in the novel to the exclusion of others? I don't make clear cut decisions like that. I just go instinctively on what it feels like it should be. I definitely strengthened certain lines that were minimal in the novel, making them much bigger. But they were there to begin with. So the spirit of the film is the spirit of the book. It's just that I would say certain elements and characters are not there, certain others who were not in the book appear in the film. Because I don't think you can have a good adaptation if you treat the source as a Bible, where you can't feel inspired by it. I'm a writer myself and I'm just glad I can be inspired by it. But I never really thought of doing an adaptation until I read Garp. Did you work with John Irving at all? No. It had to be done independently. He's a wonderful novelist but I just don't honestly feel that he could have helped. I didn't really talk about anything with anybody anyway until I'd written it, because a lot of people can talk wonderful screenplays and it just kind of diffuses things when you're gabbing instead of writing. I like to write and get it done. I submitted the script to John as a courtesy, and we then did a reading with the cast. Anything he wanted to say at that point was certainly welcome, but not when I'm writing. So you don't even work with a director at that stage? No. I finish it first. They read it then and we have something to talk about. I didn't want to hear how they would have written it because they're not writers. The thing that I've written becomes the focus of our discussions. Do you find that when you do an adaptatioon like this, which is different from the original work you're accustomed to, you have to change your style in terms of language and point of view? Not at all. The central character was somehow close to me so I thought I was writing about myself. In fact, the dumbest thing you can do is start fiddling with your style. Supposedly, the reason they wanted you to do that project in the first place is because of your style. My point of view is my...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1537-9477
Print ISSN
1520-281X
Pages
pp. 20-53
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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