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RUBY SPARKS

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 on."

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 "Pygmalion," and 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," explains Dayton.

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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