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The written words of David Foster Wallace have long proven difficult to adapt for the big screen, especially 1996’s Infinite Jest, the monstrous epic that launched the author’s career. Anonymous Content is coming at it from a different angle, and his words will serve as the focus for the indie drama The End of the Tour, with Jason Segel attached to star as Wallace while Jesse Eisenberg is set to play Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky, author of Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace. Less a biopic than a character-based docudrama, it sounds like the ratio of dialogue to action will be severely one-sided, which is usually the case when Segel enters the picture.
James Ponsoldt, whose 2013 film The Spectacular Now was an excellent example of cinematic young love, will be stepping in as director. He’ll be working from a script written by celebrated playwright Donald Margulies, who hasn’t yet tackled feature screenwriting. But who better than a playwright to properly pace such a talky project?
Following the release of Infinite Jest, Rolling Stone sent Lipsky to join Wallace on a five-day cross-country book tour, during which Wallace was still figuring out how to approach his newfound fame. A huge fan, Lipsky captured conversations with Wallace that really spoke to who he was as a human being and the complex and prosaic way his mind worked. No subject matter was off the table, as conversations switched from women to mental illness to substance abuse and back again as the men grew more comfortable talking to one another during their troubled stint together. Alas, Rolling Stone scrapped the article, but Lipsky retained the interviews, eventually publishing his book less than two years after Wallace’s suicide in 2008.
As a fan of both actors, I look forward to seeing them share the screen together for something brainier than a perverse comedy or a high-concept family film. If you’ve ever heard Wallace speak, you’re aware of his ability to capture the attention just as easily as his books do, and while Segel’s performances exude a different kind of charisma, this isn’t out of his wheelhouse.
The How I Met Your Mother actor recently wrapped Jake Kasdan’s latest comedy Sex Tape with Cameron Diaz and Rob Lowe. Eisenberg, meanwhile, will soon be seen in Richard Ayoade’s festival fave The Double, as well as the animated sequel Rio 2.
TheWrap reports The End of the Tour is set to go into production starting in February or March of 2014. Take a moment to listen to Wallace’s take on ambition in an interview with Leonard Lopate in 1996, as animated for PBS Digital Studios’ series Blank on Blank.