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LARS AND THE REAL GIRL

About The Production
"I've had many weird jobs,” recalls writer Nancy Oliver about the inspiration for Lars and the Real Girl, "during the course of which I often wander around the Internet.” Oliver came across RealDoll, a company based near San Diego that manufacturers lifelike "anatomically correct” silicone sex dolls. "These dolls were so bizarre they stuck in my head, because you can totally see the reason for them. How many people do you know who can't operate with real human beings? That's a large part of Lars' journey: he's been so deprived of female companionship and mother love, he's hungry for that kind of comfort and softness.”

But where it would have been easy to descend into bawdy humor, Oliver chose instead to write a sweet, off-kilter story about loss and pain and the power of kindness. "It seemed to me there were a lot of movies that were dark, edgy, sarcastic and sometimes mean-spirited. I wanted to write something about compassion and goodness, something that was sincere, because I wasn't seeing any of that anywhere. And this particular story ties together a lot of the themes I work with often.”

The script was sent by Oliver's agent to producer John Cameron "Lars immediately grabbed me. I hadn't heard of Nancy, I didn't know anything about the script or the story—it was sent from her agency in an envelope without any kind of pitch—so it was a cold reading that turned warm very quickly.”

Cameron immediately knew whom he wanted for director. Cameron and then commercials director Craig Gillespie had been friends for years, ever since they were introduced by actor Frances McDormand, and Cameron had been "blown away” by Gillespie's reel. "It's very funny, really great stuff,” says Cameron. "So in addition to getting to know him better, I kept an eye on his work. Recently he won the DGA award for Best Commercial Director after having been nominated three or four times. This guy knows narrative. He knows theme. I thought this would be a great project for him in terms of his sensibility. He approaches everything from an extremely realistic perspective. He doesn't look at a scene and say, ‘What can be funny here?' rather he asks, ‘What's the idea that we're trying to communicate?' If it's funny, great, but his approach is real from the get go. And I thought a movie about a man who falls in love with a life-size doll, if not grounded in some kind of reality, would become farce, and that's not what the script is about.”

Both men knew, however, that the story would be a difficult pitch. "It's very delicate, intimate, and life-affirming but it's not easily pigeonholed,” explains Cameron. "The plot sounds ludicrous when you encapsulate it too briefly. Thematically it's a little easier: It's about a damaged, sweet, shy young man coming to terms with a trauma from his past. And beyond that, it's a movie about community, how his family and the folks around him come together to help.”

"It scared a lot of people,” confirms Gillespie, "because it's such a tightrope to walk. We had a lot of trouble trying to set it up with studios because everybody knew that it was such a fine line to pull this off. I always felt I had a really strong handle on the tone and the delicacy of it, but we had it for three years before it got off the ground. I think people just didn't want to take the risk. But we had lots of meetings because everyone loved the script so much.”

Bill Horberg, President of Production at SKE had gotten the script, loved it and shared it with SKE President Jim Tauber who had the same enthusiasm for it. This became a high priority for them and they quickly set a meeting with John Cameron and Sarah Aubrey who filled them in on Gillespie. There was a lot of competitive interest in the project and SKE was eager to get it.

Horberg and Tauber brought Gillespie and Cameron in to meet with Sidney Kimmel w

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