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Writer Emma Donoghue had a strong sense of what her novel Room might be like as a movie, so she wrote a screenplay version before the book was even published. Director Lenny Abrahamson read and loved the book, but never thought he'd have the chance to direct the film adaptation. Still, he had to try. They tell us how they came to team up, and talk about the challenges of making a film on a dark topic that people will still want to see.

Photo: Director Lenny Abrahamson on the set of Room with actors Jacob Tremblay (L) and Brie Larson (R). Courtesy A24. 

Hollywood News Banter 7 MIN, 47 SEC

Matt Belloni, executive editor of the Hollywood Reporter joins Kim Masters to discuss top entertainment news stories of the week.

  • The new Star Wars movie doesn’t come out until December, but it’s already breaking ticket pre-sale records.
  • Director Alejandro Iñárritu’s upcoming movie, The Revenant, was shot in sequence, using all natural light, in very cold weather. According to some members of the crew, as well as lead actor Leonardo DiCaprio, filming conditions were extremely uncomfortable and unsafe. DiCaprio said he had to do things like sleep in animal carcasses, eat raw bison liver and swim in freezing rivers.
  • Netflix released its new movie, Beasts of No Nation, in a few theaters and simultaneously online. In theaters, it tanked. Online? We’ll never know. Even though the film was a flop by box office standards, Netflix can still say they’ve got an awards-qualifying film and they let the director pursue an artistic vision that never would have found a home at a traditional studio.
  • In another side effect of viewers cutting the cord, big cable companies are feeling the squeeze. The once unstoppable ESPN is having to do some belt-tightening, including laying of 4% of its workforce.

Matthew Belloni, Hollywood Reporter (@THRMattBelloni)

Lenny Abrahamson & Emma Donoghue on 'Room' 19 MIN, 45 SEC

Room, the new movie based on Emma Donoghue's novel of the same name, tells the story of a mother, played by Brie Larson, and her son Jack, played by Jacob Tremblay. Both are already acting contenders in the awards race.

As the movie begins, Jack and his mother are celebrating his birthday, but there's no ordinary party as he turns five. His mother was kidnapped years earlier, and has long been held in a small shed. Having been raped repeatedly by her captor, she has given birth to Jack. She has devoted her considerable imagination to raising him in as nurturing an environment as possible, given that they are trapped in Room -- the only world Jack has ever known.

The director of Room, which won the People's Choice Award at this year's Toronto Film Festival, is Lenny Abrahamson, an Irish filmmaker who got his start making beer commercials. His movies include the 2014 dark comedy, Frank, in which Michael Fassbender wears a giant paper mache head for most of the film. Not exactly mainstream fare.

Abrahamson was one of several filmmakers interested in making a movie version of Donoghue's Room, and he knew he wasn't an obvious choice. But Donoghue was particular about how the story should be told on the screen -- so much so that she decided to try writing a screenplay herself even before her book was published in 2010.

Writer Emma Donoghue on the set on "Room"
Photo courtesy of A24

The two teamed up after Abrahamson wrote Donoghue a long letter explaining his vision for the film. Donoghue was impressed with the literary nature of his letter and the fact that he understood her references to Plato in the book. Their subsequent friendship and creative partnership on the film has defied the conventional wisdom that authors shouldn't adapt their own books for the screen.

Lenny Abrahamson, film and television director (@lennyabrahamson)
Emma Donoghue, playwright, literary historian and novelist (@EDonoghueWriter)


Kim Masters

Kaitlin Parker

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