Beautiful Ruins, the latest novel by Jess Walter, has already been a New York Times Bestseller and a frequent-appearer on pretty much every “Best Books of 2012” list created. It’s been called a “literary miracle” and an “elegant meditation on fame, desire, duty, and fate.”
But now the book going to become what, at heart, it was really meant to be: a movie.
And it’s not just that it’s a Hollywood novel. Did anyone read it and not want to see the rugged patch of Italian coast, the set of Cleopatra in Rome? It’s got movie stars, aspiring screenplay writers, flashbacks, sweeping landscape shots, meaningful closeups and plenty of action to keep people at the edge of their seats during the final 30 minutes. And, hello, Richard Burton.
Filmmaker Todd Field of Cross Creek Pictures is teaming up with Smuggler Films to produce the adaptation, they announced today. Field and Walter will write the screenplay.
Walter has been involved adapting some of his other books into screenplays: His first book, about Ruby Ridge, became a TV miniseries starring Laura Dern, Randy Quaid and Kirsten Dunst. His financial crisis novel, The Financial Lives of the Poets, is apparently still becoming a movie, Bailout, starring Jack Black.
But, in a Salon interview after Beautiful Ruins was published, Walter makes it clear that he doesn’t think of his novels as movies as he writes them.
“People sometimes ask who I would cast in my books and I never have any idea. I don’t think I could ever write a book thinking of it as a movie the whole time. This would be like building a house and filling it with furniture just so you could have blueprints.”
He also reveals, in this Hollywood.com interview, that he wrote and abandoned a chapter for Beautiful Ruins in which he made a cameo as himself, pitching his novel The Zero to producers who aren’t very impressed. Maybe they could bring it back for the DVD extras?
For those who always like the book better than the movie, Walter and many other Northwest writers are participating in the Get Lit! Festival, with events going on all week.