A Scott Berg, Michael Grandage, Nicole Kidman, Laura Linney, John Logan and Jude Law Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
John Logan on Scott Berg's Katharine Hepburn for Cate Blanchett: 'He absolutely offered some insight' Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
Genius explores the friendship and collaboration between Charles Scribner’s Sons editor Maxwell Perkins (Firth) and writer Thomas Wolfe (Law), his discovery. Wolfe is hyper and over the top as if he had been shot by an energiser dart.
The two men struggle to edit down Wolfe's manuscript for Of Time And The River, arriving in three packed crates - at least 300 pages have to go - as their private lives over time go to hell.
"Are we making books better or only different?" Perkins phrases the editor's dilemma. He also knows how to get to the author, when he becomes unbearable: "All of your words will be worth five of Scott's."
"Her eyes a blue beyond blue," has to go too.
Anne-Katrin Titze: In 1937, Thomas Wolfe sent a letter to F Scott Fitzgerald where he said - Scott, a great writer is not only a leaver-outer but also a putter-inner! What are you?
John Logan: [laughing] I’m a leaver-outer! I’m a leaver-outer! That’s a wonderful quote and exactly right. Because Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe had a very interesting, combative, affectionate relationship. Two respectful writers. At the end of the day, I always think it’s good to write long, then come in short - to tear away what you don’t need.
Jude Law at the Museum of Modern Art Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
JL: That’s the idea. It’s our version of the Garden of Allah, yes. It’s not the actual building because that doesn’t exist anymore. It’s our representation of that era of Fitzgerald’s life.
AKT: For the very beginning of Genius, were you writing about the shoes? Was that your way into the script?
JL: That came about in discussion with Michael Grandage, in terms of what the first image was. Do we start with Thomas Wolfe on the street? Do we start with Max Perkins in the office? We debated it back and forth and that just emerged as an interesting, arresting image.
AKT: You have been working on this project for quite a while.
JL: Oh, yes. All of my life.
AKT: How many years with Scott Berg?
JL: Fifteen. Actually, 16 years now. Since I first talked to Scott about it.
AKT: The two of you have been in touch?
Colin Firth and Jude Law as Maxwell Perkins and Thomas Wolfe in Genius Photo: Courtesy Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions
AKT: Did he help you with Katharine Hepburn for The Aviator? [Scott Berg wrote Kate Remembered]
JL: [laughing mischievously] He offered some insight, yeah. He absolutely offered some insight.
AKT: For example?
JL: I couldn’t even tell you, it’s so private. But he offered me some insight about writing Kate, for sure.
Coming up - A Scott Berg, Michael Grandage, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman and Laura Linney at the Genius premiere in New York.
Genius opens in the US on June 10.