Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dennis Lehane talks to MovieWeb

A great interview with Dennis Lehane coinciding with the DVD release of Shutter Island is presented at MovieWeb -

This is the first film that you are on board with as a producer. Can you talk about that experience working with everyone on the film?

Dennis Lehane: Oh, it was great. I just wanted to be involved as a producer because, at that point, I didn't have Shutter Island for several years and gotten it back, gotten the rights back, and I wanted to protect this a little bit. I wanted to be involved with really good people and I wanted to have conversations with those really good people about talent and that was sort of the limit of my contribution to things. The secret of my success is refusing to get involved with anybody who doesn't have a certain level of quality. I just won't do it. I have no problem walking away and leaving a bunch of money on the table. It doesn't bother me.

There was a quote from you that I read where you said that you wouldn't want to adapt one of your own novels because it would be like operating on one of your own children. What is the process for finding a screenwriter for one of your books? Is it like finding a spouse for one of your kids then?

Dennis Lehane: No, I think it's more like finding a really good contractor to work on your house. They're going to be in your shit for a few months (Laughs) and it probably could be aggravating unless you go with someone you really respect. The process started with, when Clint Eastwood and I chose Brian Helgeland for Mystic River, we were 100% in agreement on. We chose him based on what he had done with L.A. Confidential, which was just an unadaptable book and he adapted it. Once you see the gifts on display with really great adapters, just step out of the way, is my feeling. I am not a really good adapter. I think I am a good novelist and I think I'm a good teleplay writer and I think I'm even a decent screenwriter, but I'm not a good adapter. It's a different skill set, it's a different art form and the people who are good at it, man, all you do is sit back and take your hat off. I don't know what else to say about them. They're just a different breed.

Helgeland is one of the best. His adaptations are usually phenomenal.

Dennis Lehane: Oh, yeah. And Laeta Kalogridis killed this, Shutter Island. She just nailed it. I could see in Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard's script for Gone Baby Gone, the same thing. They just got it, whatever it is that I couldn't have gotten. I couldn't do it with my own work. I probably could do it with somebody else's, because you have perspective but when I try to do my own work, I just lack perspective.I saw one of the DVD clips and you were talking about how when Leonardo DiCaprio came in, he was asking you all these questions about the character that even you couldn't answer.

What was it like to work with someone who is such an immersive actor like Leonardo is?

Dennis Lehane: Well, for the writer, a lot of times, we've kind of moved on and he's living in that present tense because he's playing the character. When he's asking me those questions, it was about five years after I had written the character, it was like, 'Wow. If only it was five years ago,' you know what I mean? Or maybe I just should've read my own damn book before I came to meet him. Yeah, he had that same kind of - him and Sean Penn have this real uncanny intelligence, in terms of their characters. I can't describe it, you just have to see it. You see the results on the screen, so it's not that hard to believe.

Click Here to read more from MovieWeb
Photo (c) 2009 A Karim

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Inspiration behind Larsson’s Salander

I know I have become fascinated, perhaps obsessed by Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. Today I read with great interest The Telegraph’s article by Lasse Winkler [editor-in-chief of the Swedish book trade magazine Svensk Bokhandel] when he met with Larsson and discussed his [then] unpublished trilogy in an interview –

It all started one sunny day in late September 2004, on a park bench outside the Gothenburg Book Fair. John-Henri Holmberg, a Swedish publisher, sat down next to me and told me about three manuscripts he had just read, written by a friend of his named Stieg Larsson. They would, he said, make their author the most famous Swedish writer in the world, “bigger than Henning Mankell”.

At that time, Mankell had conquered almost every market around the world, achieving international sales of around 20 million copies. Larsson, who was then working as an editor on an anti-racism magazine called Expo, hadn’t published a single word of fiction.

If it had come from anyone else, I would have laughed off Holmberg’s claim as a piece of far-fetched fantasy. But my faith in his judgment, and the fact that this Larsson character had waited until he had three manuscripts ready before even approaching a publisher, intrigued me. So the next day, I called Larsson and asked if he would let me interview him.

A few weeks later, on October 27 2004, we met in the Stockholm offices of Expo. The fading light of day seeped into a room furnished with a simple table, two plain chairs and a lamp. Larsson, a 50-year-old chain smoker, looked exhausted. After his death, much would be written about his indefatigable work rate, his superhuman capacity to write for hours without a break. It was clearly taking its toll. The only known fruits of his labour were, at that time, his exposés of racist and fascist organisations for Expo, a publication he had helped set up in 1995 in the wake of a spate of neo-Nazi murders. This work had drawn him into the public eye and provoked death threats.

Larsson lived with his long-term partner, Eva Gabrielsson, but his name was not on the doorbell of their flat and his address was not listed in any records or databases. The couple had several established routines whenever they left home: sometimes they would leave by the front door; at other times, they went out the back, via the basement. Larsson had a habit of glancing over his shoulder frequently, as if to check if anyone was following him.

Not long before our meeting, the police had informed him that photographs of him and Gabrielsson, as well as information about their address, had been found in connection with a murder investigation they were conducting in Stockholm.

I began our interview by inquiring about this aspect of his life, asking if he took any precautions to protect himself. It was a mistake. “Sure,” he snapped back, “but I’m hardly going to tell you about them, am I?”

Read More Here from The Telegraph

Further interviews are here –

Erland Larsson speaks about his son Stieg and his work

Christopher MacLehose speaks about securing the English Language rights

And where my obsession started in December 2007

All my Larsson related posts at The Rap Sheet are archived here

Photo © 2008 A Karim – Christopher MacLehose and Erland Larsson after the ITV-3 Crime Thriller Awards at Grosvenor House London