About The Production
"I started seeing her this morning. It's like that movie HARVEY. Except she's
not a giant rabbit."
-- Calvin Weir-Fields
What if the defining love of your life turned out to be a work of fiction?
Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul
Dano) - plagued by writer's block - dreams of the love of his life and is
inspired to write about her. Then
one morning she steps off the page and into his life. It seems fitting that RUBY
SPARKS, a romantic fable
about how two people weave a love story in and out of reality, was brought to
life by a married pair of
directors (Dayton & Faris) working with two actors who are also a devoted couple
(Dano and Kazan). This
double set of couples weren't as interested in the conventional boy meets girl
scenario as they were in
exploring the surreally provocative question of what would happen if boy writes
girl . . . only to find that girl
comes to life complete with a will of her own.
It began with an idea that struck Zoe Kazan nearly as suddenly as Calvin
comes up with Ruby
Sparks. Kazan - renowned as a promising playwright and a rising actress with
roles in REVOLUTIONARY
ROAD, IT'S COMPLICATED and the indie Western MEEK'S CUTOFF - was coming home
late one night
from the set of a film when she was shocked to see a mannequin lying in heap of
trash. The sight set off a
creative chain reaction as Kazan, a Greek mythology buff, was reminded of the
ancient myth of Galatea, in
which Pygmalion falls in love with the statue he has crafted with his own hands.
That uncanny moment,
when the inanimate seemed to come alive, started her thinking about how fantasy,
autonomy and identity
collide and collude in contemporary relationships.
"I started wondering what might happen if a writer had a character come to
life who could give him
exactly what he thought he wanted romantically. But things get very complicated
because when you really
love someone you have to love all of the person, not just the parts you've
idealized," Kazan recalls.
As Kazan wrote, she began sharing her work with her boyfriend, the actor Paul
Dano, and though
she had not set out to write something for the two of them, they couldn't help
but envision one another in the
lead roles. "I think I was always subconsciously writing Calvin for Paul," she
muses. "But the weirdest
thing is that I was writing a character who is writing my character! There was
something very meta going
Kazan wasn't so interested in the science fiction aspect of how a writer's
fantasy character might
come to life - she was more intrigued by what would come next. How would a
fictional creation fare in the
midst of the messiness of real life, especially when the man writing her isn't
sure of exactly what he wants?
There has been a long literary tradition of riffing on the man-made object made
human: Shakespeare with
Queen Hermione in "A Winter's Tale," George Bernard Shaw with Eliza Doolittle in
Mary Shelley gave it another take with her "Frankenstein" myth. Kazan wanted to
come at the concept from
a literary perspective, exploring a writer who pens the lover he thinks he wants
in his heart . . . but who
makes him so nervous in the flesh, he is tempted to keep changing her.
She explains: "I was interested in the theme of control in relationships and
the way we bring in
ideas of who the person we love should be. How do you love the person you're
with completely without
saying 'I don't want this part or that part?' How do you make room in a
relationship for two separate
people? I've been in relationships before where I felt like the person was not
seeing me, but something close
to me, something just a little off center from me. That is what happens with
Calvin and Ruby."
"We sent the screenplay to a few producers, including Ron and Albert. Most
everyone I met
with said 'you'll never get this made with you guys as the leads, it's just
impossible.' When we met
with Ron and Albert they said they would make this movie for $100,000 or
$10,000,000. They would
make it for whatever budget they could get and nobody else said that. Which was
so brave considering
that it is what we ended up doing. That sort of willingness to pursue at any
budget is a real testament to
them as producers," says Kazan.
Producers Albert Berger & Ron Yerxa brought the screenplay to directors
Jonathan Dayton &
Valerie Faris. Kazan was convinced there could be no better match of sensibility
to her story. "I'm
interested in stories that show what's both a little sad and funny about life,"
comments Kazan. "I think that's
what Jon and Val did so well in LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE and that's why we thought
of them right away.
They're perfect for this script."
"We always respond to the voice of the writer," says Faris. "We loved how she
was able to write
about a very complex subject in a very economical, spare and matter-of-fact way.
She has a gift for making
things look easy, fun and not labored over, and at the same time, there is real
depth in her work."
The duo decided to approach the story not as a sci-fi fantasy, but as
something that is currently
happening in the everyday world, no matter how bizarre it might seem to Calvin.
"Even though the story is built around a fictional premise, it illuminates so
many truths about
relationships. We felt it was essential for the scenes to feel real and honest,"
Albert Berger notes that Ruby constantly challenges the audience because,
much as she starts out as
an idea in Calvin's mind, he creates her with a strong individualistic desire to
be her own person. "To me,
the achievement of this script is how much integrity and humanity exists in Ruby
and how Calvin is
ultimately forced to grow in order to accommodate her strength and evolution,"
the producer says. "Of
course, all of the nuances deepened in Jon and Val's hands. They have a way of
digging into the material so
that the movie becomes the fullest realization of the script."
Ron Yerxa continues: "It's a comedy with a fun premise but at the same time,
there are very
sophisticated ideas in it. Calvin imagines a woman he'd like to be with for the
rest of his life. But what's
interesting is that once she appears in flesh and blood, he's threatened by
that. I think this mirrors a lot of
people's experiences in life and relationships. It's only when he lets go of his
ideas about who Ruby should
be that Calvin finds what he was looking for."
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