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The Genesis of Stranger Than Fiction
"Truth is stranger than Fiction… because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.” -- Mark Twain

"Life is the crummiest book I ever read.” --Lyric from "Stranger Than Fiction” by Bad Religion

"It is written!” declares many a spiritual text, and more than one faith proposes that the day of a person's death has been written in stone long before he or she is born. But what if there was an actual writer doing the writing? Not an all- knowing god-like writer with a clay tablet, but a blocked, irascible, self-destructive writer with a battered IBM Selectric?

It was this thought-provoking comedic premise, combined with the story's deeply felt emotions, that attracted director Marc Forster to newcomer Zach Helm's screenplay. While comedy may seem to be a departure for Forster, exploring the blurry lines between truth and illusion has long been at the core of his work. This is particularly true in the Academy Award®-nominated FINDING NEVERLAND, Forster's poignant exploration of "Peter Pan” author J.M. Barrie's magical imagination. What he immediately loved about STRANGER THAN FICTION was that, in the midst of Harold Crick's unusual and unlikely predicament, is a hilarious yet deeply moving inquiry into how we shape our realities. "I saw STRANGER THAN FICTION as the story of a man who's been asleep for most of his life and suddenly wakes up and realizes he has very little time left and that he has to do something we all would like to do in some way – change our story,” says Forster. "I thought it was a fantastic script, a very funny comedy with heart and soul.”

"I'd always wanted to try something comedic, but I also try to make films that are not just entertaining, but also emotional and inspiring,” he continues. "I was fascinated by STRANGER THAN FICTION because I think we all have a narrator in our lives. We all have inner voices in our heads that tell us what to do and how to be – and what Harold Crick discovers in the midst of these incredible events is how to escape all that and really begin to enjoy every second of his existence.”

Forster's long-time producing partner Eric Kopeloff, who first worked with the director on MONSTER'S BALL, was equally enthralled by Helm's script. "Marc has always made such interesting choices and this film was a wonderful story that he had never told before,” he says. "Creatively, he's always looking for a fresh road to travel and STRANGER THAN FICTION was definitely that.”

The inspiration for STRANGER THAN FICTION began in 2001, when the then 26-year-old writer Zach Helm flashed upon the idea of a man who finds himself accompanied day and night by a relentless narrator only he can hear. Helm brought the idea to producer Lindsay Doran, with whom he was already collaborating on another project, and as they talked about the best direction for the story to take, Helm decided the narrator should say that the man is about to die.

"I wanted to tell the story of a man who found his life just before he lost it,” recalls Helm. "There's something very poetic in the understanding of one's place in the world and the meaning of one's life, but it's far more dramatic when such understanding occurs only days before that life ends.”

As Helm began to imagine the various characters and elements of Harold Crick's world, it became clear that they would all be deeply intertwined. "From Kay to Professor Hilbert to Penny to Ana to the wristwatch, each one of the characters ends up doing little things to help them save one another,” observes Helm. "There's an underlying theme that the people and things we take most for granted are often the ones that make life worth living and actually keep us alive.”

Producer Doran was immediately intrigued by what she and Helm then referred to as "The Narrator Project.” Drawn to fantast

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