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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    What’s the first rule of ‘Fight Club?’

    You do not talk about fight club. However, Jim Uhls, the screenwriter who adapted Chuck Palahniuk’s hit novel into the immensely popular movie, will be appearing in Tucson on Friday night to answer any and all of your questions about “”Fight Club”” as well as discuss his latest projects. He provides The Wildcat with a little taste of what’s to come:

    Wildcat: How much freedom did you have when you were adapting the novel, “”Fight Club,”” into the screenplay? Were you able to add a little something of your own?

    Uhls: Yes, that’s what was so great about it. We wanted to keep the feeling of the novel and have the experience of the movie feel like reading the novel. Within that there was a lot of latitude for me to invent material, like characters and scenes that either didn’t exist or they needed to be fleshed out more as well as a lot of restructuring of the plot.

    We had the blessing that Chuck (Palahniuk) became our friend and he was very enthusiastic about what we were doing and gave us a lot of support in changing things.

    W: I imagine you had to invent a lot of dialogue since the film doesn’t allow you to see inside people’s heads.

    U: Right. You can’t make it exactly faithful because the author has the latitude to talk about things that are going on internally, the things that won’t be picked up by a camera. So that’s always a challenge even in the most faithful adaptations. This one was pretty faithful, but we had room to have some fun with the material and have a good time with it.

    W: Did you have any say in which actors were picked to star in the film?

    U: We did. We would always talk, me and David (Fincher) and the producers, you know, have these conversations about who should play the roles. And I was listened to as much as anyone else. I influenced the thinking in a few cases. It was just fun really because we were all excited about the same people in general.

    W: Well, Brad Pitt and Edward Norton were well chosen and surely partly to credit for the success of the film.

    U: Absolutely. That can’t be overstated. They truly became the movie. I was delighted.

    W: And what is your favorite movie?

    U: I always have a hard time answering that question. I like such a variety of movies from different time periods and different countries, but when I’m forced into a corner, I say Dr. Strangelove because it has an extremely difficult tone to achieve. It’s satire but it feels real; it’s funny but it’s gruesomely dark at the same time, and that appeals to me.

    W: So you’re a fan of dark movies?

    U: Well, certainly dark with humor. When I say humor, I don’t mean it has to be a dark comedy, but a blend of realistic drama, dark situations and realistic humor. That keeps me enthralled.

    W: I’ve heard you’re working on a new screenplay, “”Rex Mundi,”” that Johnny Depp is rumored to star in. Could you tell me a little bit about that?

    U: That’s correct. It’s based on a series of graphic novels that are still coming out, and books one, two and three we are collecting as chapters. Some things we’re keeping and some we’re changing, but the basic premise is that it’s set in the present time but it’s an alternative present.

    By that I mean history happened differently to lead up to the present time. The Catholic Church remained in power over in Europe; the monarchies in Europe are still in control of the rest of the world, most of which is colonies. The Inquisition is still going on, and there’s an internal, deep, complicated mystery that the lead character starts to unravel. I changed that mystery entirely from the graphic novel and in doing so created a lot of work for myself. (laughs)

    W: Will you have less freedom in adapting a graphic novel since the images are already there?

    U: No, in terms of having all the frames already there in the graphic novel and how they’ve organised it, it wouldn’t differ from adapting an ordinary book. I still have to have an approach and have it all fit together my way.

    W: How long will it be before this new film comes out?

    U: Probably, at the earliest, next year sometime.

    W: It seems like graphic novels are getting to be very popular at the movie theatres right now.

    U: Yes, yes. Many of them are very different in content and style, and this one is not in superhero style. It’s a very different kind of story, which shows the versatility of graphic novels.

    W: Do you think “”Rex Mundi”” will have the same kind of success as “”Fight Club””?

    U: Well, I hope it does very well! That’s all I can say! I think it will be unique enough and interesting enough to peak the curiosity, so hopefully that’ll be a success.

    Jim Uhls will be at The Loft Cinema on Friday, April 27th at 8:00 p.m. Admission is $5.00, which includes a screening of the movie.

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