12 December 2013

No One Is Good Enough To Play David Foster Wallace Onscreen, Because Reasons

My Twitter timeline set itself on fire last night over the news that there will be a David Foster Wallace movie that is not a documentary. The film is technically an adaptation of David Lipsky's ALTHOUGH OF COURSE YOU END UP BECOMING YOURSELF, based on a Rolling Stone article where Lipsky followed DFW around on his INFINITE JEST book tour. (It's almost all transcripts; Lipsky fleshed it out after the author's death.) Playwright Donald Margulies ("Time Stands Still") will write the script, James Ponsoldt (the good-but-not-spectacular "The Spectacular Now") will direct and Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg will costar as DFW and Lipsky. Right now it's called "The End of the Tour."

It's a great day to be a David Foster Wallace fan and understand what this all could mean! So why is the general temperature of the discussion "No, not now, not ever, wrong"?

I'm with the New Yorker's TV critic Emily Nussbaum: I think the casting (which most people are focusing on) has a lot of potential. Just because Jason Segel has done mostly comedic work so far doesn't rule him out, and some of his turns on "How I Met Your Mother" have been very dramatic. Eisenberg would have to tamp down some of the smarminess he has deployed well in roles like Mark Zuckerberg in "The Social Network," but I believe in him too. We should be jumping up and down, this is a book about a cult author (sorry, but it's true) that will expose him to millions more people. 

The bottom line, though, is that no one will be considered acceptable for this role by the literary community because it's just too soon and the disappointment will hurt too much. If Meryl Streep had been cast and Martin Scorsese were directing, it would be the same. (I'd for sure see that movie as well, though. Someone Photoshop me a Streep with a white bandanna, please.) It's just -- stop throwing a fit, okay? We are become caricatures of ourselves. 

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