Australian director Phillip Noyce has been struggling to get his adaptation of American Pastoral off the ground for 11 years and counting. But it seems like at long last he's gearing up for production, having wrangled Ewan McGregor as his leading man.
Coming Soon first snagged this curious bit of casting news while speaking with Phillip Noyce about his soon-to-open science-fiction drama The Giver, an adaptation of the Lois Lowry novel. Noyce, who has previously helmed such A-lister-fronted features as Angelina Jolie's Salt, Denzel Washington's The Bone Collector, and Harrison Ford's Clear and Present Danger, confessed that the inability to find the right actor for American Pastoral's lead role has been the main cause of its delays. However, with Ewan McGregor now on board, Noyce expects American Pastoral will roll into production by early 2015.
American Pastoral will be based on the noteworthy novel by American author Philip Roth. Published in 1997, the book begins in 1927 New Jersey and follows the life and times of Seymour "Swede" Levov. Well, actually the book begins at a high school reunion where Swede's tragic story is being relayed to the author's recurring alter ego Nathan Zuckerman. But as dense as this novel gets, let's strive to keep it simple.
A Jewish American, Seymour earns the name "Swede" because of his Nordic good looks, with blond hair and blue eyes (I seem to remember him being a pretty brawny character, but admittedly It's been nearly a decade since I read Roth's book. So, I might be misremembering). The son of a successful entrepreneur, Swede is a star athlete in high school, and goes on to become a Marine, serving during World War II. In many ways, he's poised to be All-American hero, even achieving the seemingly happy family life that is commonly striven for. But as the Vietnam War heats up, Swede's life becomes more and more complicated, in large part because of the political activism of his daughter Merry, who neither he nor the book's narrator can understand.
It's a book that has dark, even bleak, moments, and, to be perfectly frank, I struggle to imagine how it can be adapted into a compelling drama. Thankfully, that's not for me to figure out. Noyce has John Romano on the job of adapting American Pastoral. Romano has previously penned for a slew of TV series, like Monk, Third Watch and Party of Five. But his most relevant credits in this case would be Nights of Rodanthe, a romance based on the Nicholas Sparks' novel, and The Lincoln Lawyer based on Michael Connelly's book.
Should Phillip Noyce and Ewan McGregor finally get American Pastoral going, it would be the sixth film made from Phillip Roth's works, following Goodbye Columbus, Portnoy's Complaint, The Human Stage, Elegy and the recently wrapped Barry Levinson production The Humbling.