Have you read This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper? After watching the trailer I posted a few weeks ago, I immediately downloaded the book onto my Kindle and read it. I could not stop reading. It was that good. Therefore, it was a delight to talk with Jonathan Tropper about both the book and the movie.
After writing and publishing the book, Jonathan Tropper had the opportunity to also pen the screenplay. Considering the novel features so much of Judd’s (Jason Bateman) inner dialogue, the screenplay had to be adjusted to keep from having too many voice-overs. Whereas in print getting into a character’s head can be easy, watching their actions played out on screen can take a very different angle. I honestly think Mr. Tropper made it all flow perfectly by “finessing the characters” well both in print and on the screen.
Speaking of Jason Bateman, I did find it interesting that the only actor that Jonathan Tropper always “thought of here and there” was Jason. After working with him on previous projects, he mentioned that Bateman was like a “real avatar for these kind of characters.” I personally think he was wonderfully cast and simply the perfect man for the job.
As we discussed the members of the Altman family, Mr. Tropper talked about making sure he was able to get the “essence of each character” into the movie. Having to compress the movie in order to get in the parts that matter most means a lot of scenes that do not make into the movie. But, it also gives a bit of literary liberty when available. For instance, an emotional scene between Horry and Wendy that is played out in the movie was not part of the book. In order to be a part of the novel, Judd would have had to witness the scene. But, the interaction happened with no one around… and was perfect.
In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. It made me laugh, cry, and simply feel as though I was sitting shiva with the family for 7 days. Having read the book before hand, I knew what was happening. I even played out a few scenes in the book… and not in the movie… in my head where they should be. For instance, the final resting place of the birthday cake at the beginning of the movie? That was too crazy funny to not play out in my head as I watched the movie. It may not have made it to the final cut but it was not leaving my head.
Overall, I loved them both: the novel and the film. Knowing Jonathan Tropper penned both, it was a tough distinction. He was able to draw me completely into both and I cannot wait to see the movie again.
This Is Where I Leave You is in theaters everywhere on September 19.
About Jonathan Tropper
Jonathan Tropper is the internationally bestselling author of six novels: Plan B, The Book of Joe, Everything Changes, How To Talk to a Widower, This Is Where I Leave You, and One Last Thing Before I Go. His books have been translated into over twenty languages. He recently adapted This Is Where I Leave You as a feature film for Warner Bros. Studios, starring Jason Bateman and Tina Fey, and is currently adapting One Last Thing Before I Go for Paramount. Jonathan is also the co-creator and executive producer of the television show Banshee, which premiered on Cinemax in January 2013 and is currently shooting its third season. He lives in Westchester, NY with his three children.
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