About The Production
"I was once walking around Chicago in a really bad neighborhood and in
the midst of some really illegible gang graffiti, somebody had written 'Ghost
World' very clearly on a garage," explains Daniel Clowes, creator of the
underground comic book that formed the basis for Terry Zwigoff's film. "I
thought at the time that there was really something sort of beautiful about
that. I had no idea if it was taken from a song or if it was something that
somebody just made up, but it struck me as having a really evocative, poetic
quality. I had been thinking of this story at the time and it just stuck in my
"It had so many levels of meaning to me," adds Clowes. "The
America we live in is disappearing, bulldozed under our feet and constantly
rehabbed and remodeled. It also refers more personally to the characters and the
friendships that they've lost."
Having a similar take on the decline of western civilization, director Zwigoff
and producer Lianne Halfon, executive producer on Crumb, approached
Clowes about collaborating on the project. "Culture is declining all around
the world; it's just happening sooner here in America than, say, Europe where
they have deeper traditions," he says. "One of the reasons I wanted to
shoot in California is because it's happening the fastest here and it looks like
anyplace in modern America - just one big happy strip mall filled with Gaps and
Starbucks and Burger Kings. This is part of Enid's dilemma - to find something
authentic to connect with in this modern monoculture."
"I think the title refers to the world in which these characters live - it
could be Anytown, USA - that is slowly being taken over by malls and cappuccino
places," says Steve Buscemi. "The town is starting to lose its
character and become a ghost of what it used to be."
In developing the screenplay for their celluloid Ghost World, Zwigoff and
Clowes formed a great working relationship and worked closely together
throughout the making of the film. "I guess most screenwriters aren't
allowed anywhere near the set, so I feel fortunate to have been afforded this
opportunity," says Clowes. "I wanted to be there to help in any way I
could. I wouldn't have missed it for the world." Clowes was able to serve
as a consultant throughout the entire process, contributing his unique visual
and verbal skills to every phase of production.
After the two year process of adaptation, Halfon brought the screenplay to her
partners Russ Smith and John Malkovich at Mr. Mudd. Together with Zwigoff and
Clowes they turned their attention to finding the right cast to bring their
vision of contemporary life to the screen.
Thora Birch was a natural for Enid. "She's a very accomplished actress -
smart and sensitive and fearless," says Zwigoff. "She somehow also got
the wacky, goofy side of the character, and not with much help from me, I'm
Playing Enid's best friend Rebecca is 15-year-old Scarlett Johansson, playing an
18-year-old character. "Scarlett's 15, going on 35 - wise beyond her
years," notes Zwigoff. "She is a very natural actress and
instinctively captured Rebecca's character. Very cool and reserved, but also a
bit of a weirdo - rather peculiar and odd in a subtle way, so it worked out
"Scarlett is such a terrific young actress with such charisma," says
Daniel Clowes. "And they have a great chemistry, the two of them, and
became friends right as we started filming. They're very close, almost as close
as the two characters."
There was never any doubt who should be Seymour, and Zwigoff haunted Steve
Buscemi until he signed on to play the role. "I never thought of Seymour as
a loser, which is how every studio we talked t
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