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David Lindsay-Abaire won a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony for his play Rabbit Hole, a wry but also heartbreaking take on parents grieving for their dead child (the movie version, starring Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart, hits theaters December 18). But like many playwrights he's also done work in Hollywood to pay the rent, and the two major films that bear his name-- Robots and Inkheart-- are, he's quick to point out, not exactly the result of a fulfilling creative process.
But he's still doing studio work, and one of his bigger upcoming projects is Oz: Great and Powerful, the take on The WIzard of Oz that Sam Raimi is planning to direct. I knew Lindsay-Abaire wouldn't be able to give too much detail about the project, but I was curious about how the process was working out, especially given some of the horror stories he had told me earlier about working in Hollywood (more on those when I post the full interview). Unsurprisingly he had high praise for Raimi, but his responses seemed unusually heartfelt so I thought they were worth sharing. He was also unclear on whether or not Robert Downey Jr. had in fact signed on to play the title role, so it was interesting hearing him talk about writing for the character when he wasn't sure who would be playing the role.
Check out what he had to say below, and look in a week or two for the rest of my interview with Lindsay-Abaire, about his masterfully written and heartbreaking Rabbit Hole.
What are you bringing to Oz: Great and Powerful, and how is that work going?
Certainly Oz is going to be funny. I hope it's also going to be psychologically grounded and truthful and relatable and empathetic. He's a character.
So you're building that character-- it's the man behind the curtain.
That's exactly what the movie is about, how he became the man behind the curtain. What helps with Oz is that Sam Raimi is just the loveliest, smartest guy to work with. I feel like we share such a sensibility, I don't have to explain what I'm doing when I write scenes, because he gets it. We share a brain. He's funny but so emotional at the same time, and that doesn't always happen.
Have you been writing for Robert Downey Jr.? I know his casting isn't quite official.
I have and I haven't. I'm trying to write the character and make sure that it's something that, if Robert Downey Jr. does it, he'll be fantastic at. And yet not make it so specific that, should Robert Downey Jr. decide not to do the movie, someone else can't do it. I'm just trying to write Oz.