Brian Selznick Interview: ‘Wonderstruck’ writer
“I never thought about writing a screenplay before,” reveals “Wonderstruck” writer Brian Selznick during our recent webcam interview (watch the exclusive video above). Though the young adult novelist and illustrator had seen his book “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” turned into Martin Scorsese‘s film “Hugo” (2011), the writing duties on that one had been left to John Logan. So when costume designer Sandy Powell, who worked on “Hugo,” first approached him about adapting his story about a mysterious connection between a deaf girl in the 1920s and an orphaned boy in the 1970s into a film for Todd Haynes, he was “thrilled by the idea, but I really didn’t know anything about writing screenplays at all.”
He sought guidance from Logan, a Tony winner for his play “Red” and Oscar nominee for “Gladiator” (2000), “The Aviator” (2004), and “Hugo.” “I sort of got a master class in writing screenplays from John,” Selznick divulges. One piece of advice that he gained was to “just write it the way you want to write it before you show it to anybody else, before you show it to any potential directors, any potential producers. Just make it yourself. It was really John’s confidence and Sandy’s confidence in me that really made me begin to feel like maybe I could do this.”
“The Invention of Hugo Cabret” won Selznick the 2008 Caldecott Medal from the American Library Association for the year’s best illustrated picture book. His grandfather was a cousin of producer David O. Selznick, who won Best Picture Oscars for “Gone with the Wind” (1939) and “Rebecca” (1940). Will Selznick follow in his famous relative’s footsteps and take the prize for Best Adapted Screenplay?
“Wonderstruck” opens on Friday, October 20, and stars Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, Millicent Simmonds, and Oakes Fegley. Check out our full interview above for more about Selznick’s work.