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I have to admit; I'm wildly fascinated by Fisher Stevens, mainly because he keeps popping up into my movie-watching life in unexpected ways. As a kid, I knew him as Steve Guttenberg's goofy Indian sidekick in Short Circuit. As a teenager, I knew him as the skateboarding villain Eugene "The Plague" Belford in the so-bad-its-good thriller Hackers (which stars a pre-stardom Angelina Jolie and Jonny Lee Miller in a red leather bodysuit.) Then, as adult I experienced a inexplicable pride when I saw this character actor I've long clung to taking the stage at the Academy Awards, as one of the now Oscar-winning producers of the remarkable investigative documentary The Cove. Basically, I'm always rooting for Fisher Stevens, and so am instantly intrigued by his latest venture—directing a movie adaptation of Philip Roth's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel American Pastoral.
This will be Stevens' third time helming a narrative feature, following Stand Up Guys, a comedy that he is now shooting with Al Pacino and Christopher Walken. Deadline reports John Ramono, whose recently penned the screenplay for the adaptation of Michael Connelly's novel The Lincoln Lawyer, has translated the dense novel into a drama, and notes that this is the third adaptation of Roth's works Lakeshore Entertainment has undertaken, counting 2003's The Human Stain, and 2008's Elegy, which was based on The Dying Animal.
Roth's American Pastoral centers on Seymour “Swede” Levov, an American businessman with a golden past bedecked with high school athletic glory. However, despite his lovely house, good job, and lovely wife and daughter, his present is less enviable. He feels trapped running the company his father establishes, and his trophy wife has grown tired of him. As the Vietnam War causes social unrest, his teenage daughter channels her rebellion into radical religious beliefs he can't understand. Then she commits a horrendous act of political terrorism that severs their bond and chases her into hiding.
It's a dark tale of a family's dissolution that's meant to speak to the tragedy beneath the shiny surface of American life. I read this book a few years back, and remember being agitated at how Roth portrayed his female characters as beautiful but unknowable beings. But with Fisher directing, I'd be willing to revisit this story of Swede. My loyalty aside, the actor turned director has shown a gift for weaving a compelling narrative out of even the darkest and most bizarre source material, as he did in with striking documentary Crazy Love, which details the demented romance of Linda Riss and Burt Pugach. Therefore, he seems a great fit for story as challenging as American Pastoral.
American Pastoral is expected to go into production early next year. Tell us in comments who you'd like to play Swede, his wife Dawn, and daughter Merry.