If you know me for more than, say, five minutes, you know that the only thing I like as much as reading is watching movies. So perhaps it’s no surprise that movies that feature books—specifically authors—hit the sweet spot in my entertainment Venn diagram.
Fortunately, there’s plenty of material.
I’ve waxed poetic (or perhaps prosaic?) about my love for Joan Wilder (yes, THE Joan Wilder) of Romancing the Stone. She both embodies and defies writerly tropes as she flirts with the dangers of missing deadlines, immerses herself in the fictional world of her characters and realizes that her potential for creativity isn’t limited to the page.
Then there are Stephen King’s writers, who get bonus points for occupying both page and screen. Jack Torrance of The Shining gives us a glimpse at the dark side of getting far faaaaaaaaaar away to finally finish that manuscript (insert joke about ghost writers and all-work-and-no-play here), while Misery’s Paul Sheldon illustrates the perils of messing with a beloved character’s trajectory. (Confession: part of me wishes for such a passionate #1 fan. Talk about commitment!)
I recently re-watched Stranger Than Fiction and flat-out adore Emma Thompson’s literary luminary, Karen Eiffel. Her chain-smoking moroseness and relentless writer’s block are things of beauty. Witness this quote:
Karen Eiffel: Excuse me, where are the dying people? Most of these people are sick or injured. Is there any way to see the people who aren’t going to get better? I’d like to see the dead-for-sure ones.
Head ER Nurse: I’m sorry, are you suffering from anything?
Karen Eiffel: Just writer’s block.
Karen, I get it. All in the name of research and advancing the plot, right?
Since I came of age in the 80s, I have a serious soft spot for Back to the Future’s George McFly who gives naysayers their comeuppance by not only getting the girl but also by authoring a novel. (Take THAT, Biff!) The scene where the family gathers around as he unboxes his books and talks about accomplishing anything you put your mind to? Chef’s kiss.
And who could forget Toby Flenderson from The Office? Not me. Okay, sure, it’s TV and not a movie, but I’m desperate to read his Chad Flenderman detective novels. In fact, I found a spiral notebook that sports a faux title from the series: A Murder for Framing. I’m seriously considering buying it.
Of course, this post would be woefully incomplete without a nod to Jessica Fletcher of Murder She Wrote. Yes, yes, it’s TV again, but I mean, come ON. She’s the queen of cozy mystery authordom and simply had to make my list.
Are movie and TV depictions of authors’ lives realistic? Um, no. But that’s half the fun. Or maybe all of it. If someone memorialized the real me on celluloid (or whatever it is they use these days), it would likely involve lots of staring into space, using the delete key with too much force and foraging in my kitchen for snacks. I daresay a version featuring that other Kathleen (Turner, that is) would be a lot more interesting—with or without the crocodiles.
So how ‘bout you, friends? Do you have a favorite movie (or TV) author? If you were featured on-screen, who would you want to play you? Please share!
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