Hollywood loves making films about making films and today’s Lockdown Rewatch, Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation, is truly as meta as it could possibly get. Film critic Roger Ebert went as far as to say that “to watch the film is to be actively involved in the challenge of its creation”. Directed by Spike Jonze the film is inspired by Kaufman’s own experience of moving a complex story from page to screen, and all the unexpected difficulties that come with it. But the 2002 picture has taken some liberties, with Nicolas Cage portraying both Charlie and his fictitious twin brother Donald Kaufman, a performance for which he received an Academy Award nomination.
Did you know…
1) Throughout the development, production and release of the film, the character of Donald Kaufman was assumed to be a real person. Charlie dedicated the manuscript to his fictional twin, who also received an official co-writing credit on the final script, and was nominated alongside Charlie at the Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay. Donald has since been named as the first fictional character nominated for an Oscar by the Guinness World Records.
2) The book that Charlie works on adapting in the film is Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief, and of course the author features quite heavily in the movie (played exquisitely by Meryl Streep). When Orlean was first approached about Kaufman’s slightly tweaked version of real events, she initially refused to be a part of it. “My first reaction was ‘Absolutely not!’ They had to get my permission and I just said: ‘No! Are you kidding? This is going to ruin my career!”, she said. “They told me that everybody else had agreed and I somehow got emboldened. It was certainly scary to see the movie for the first time. It took a while for me to get over the idea that I had been insane to agree to it, but I love the movie now.”