Stars align for Neil Gaiman

Writer launching 'Stardust,' 'Beowulf' films

Neil Gaiman accepted an invitation to shadow director Guillermo del Toro on set in Budapest in June. Saying yes was a no-brainer. He slid both book and script drafts aside and committed two weeks to the learning experience.

“I think I’d like to direct a movie,” Gaiman explains. “There’s always a very vague feeling of frustration when other people direct my stuff, even if they do it brilliantly.”

Directing a feature would be a first for the bestselling author, beloved for his comics (“The Sandman”), graphic novels (“Violent Cases”) and children’s books (“The Wolves in the Walls”). But Gaiman has taken studio meetings since nearly the beginning of his 20-year writing career.

He scripted “Neverwhere” for the BBC in 1996 and the visually stunning but financially disappointing “MirrorMask” in 2005. Gaiman and Roger Avary cranked out their first “Beowulf” draft in 1997 on spec.

The zeitgeist finally seems to be right for Gaiman’s fairy-tale brand to catch the greenlight.

“Stardust” hits theaters in August, directed by Matthew Vaughn. “Beowulf” is due in November, with Robert Zemeckis at the helm. And Gaiman’s popular young-adult novel “Coraline” is being adapted by “The Nightmare Before Christmas” stop-motion maestro Henry Selick.

“It seems like everything’s catching up to me,” Gaiman says. “In the ’90s, I’d have meetings with studio execs and watch their eyes glaze over. Afterwards, the assistants would get me to sign their copies of ‘Sandman.’ Now the lowly guys who were bringing bottled water are running the studios.”

Gaiman hopes the renewed attention will allow him to have some say in every screen adaptation of work that bears his name, whether that means handpicking the crew or writing and directing it himself. The process, he realizes, is far different from writing comicbooks or novels, and Gaiman welcomes the challenge.

“If you’re writing a novel or a short story, what you write is the thing itself, whereas in a movie script you’re writing something more akin to a battle plan,” he says. “Things are going to change.”

For now, he’s studiously observing how other directors work while rewriting “Death,” a script he drafted years ago that he hopes to direct.

“Mostly I’m just interested in figuring out what you can do with film. I’m learning so much.” After spending a week on set with del Toro, he says, “It was astoundingly easy as a director to lose a three-page scene I’d been incredibly proud of as a writer.”

More Film

  • Bac Launches 'Alice And The Mayor,'

    Bac Launches 'Alice And The Mayor,' 'My Days of Glory' at UniFrance Rendez-Vous (EXCLUSIVE)

    Paris-based Bac Films is launching a slate of new acquisitions at the UniFrance Rendez-Vous in Paris, including Nicolas Pariser’s “Alice And The Mayor” with Fabrice Luchini, and Antoine de Bary’s concept comedy “My Days of Glory” with Vincent Lacoste. “Alice And The Mayor” stars Luchini as Paul Théraneau, a prominent French mayor who has run [...]

  • Viacom Networks

    Federico Cuervo to Head New Management Structure at Viacom International Studios

    Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) –Americas has announced a new management structure for its fast-expanding Viacom International Studios (VIS) which will see Federico Cuervo filling the role of senior vice president-head of VIS, reporting to Darío Turovelzky, newly named SVP of global contents at VIMN Americas. Turovelzky remains co-chief of VIMN. Under the new structure, [...]

  • Berlin: Edko Films Picks up Zhang

    Berlin: Edko Films Picks up Zhang Yimou’s ‘One Second’

    Hong Kong studio Edko Films has picked up international rights to “One Second,” the newest movie by top Chinese director Zhang Yimou. The film will have its world premiere in competition in Berlin, it was announced this week. “One Second” is pitched as Zhang’s personal love letter to cinema, and as a return to his [...]

  • Sygeplejeskolen sc 205

    Claudia Boderke, Lars Mering Talk SF Studios ‘The New Nurses,’

    The inevitable comparison for SF Studios’ “The New Nurses,” at least from a Danish broadcast perspective, is “Something’s Rockin,’” another 2018 TV 2 Charlie show which was retro but forward-looking. “Something’s Rockin’” described the birth of an independent radio with culture in Denmark. Produced by SF Studios’ Senia Dremstrup (“Norskov”),  “The New Nurses” talks cleverly [...]

  • Robert Redford

    Robert Redford to Receive Honorary Cesar Award

    Legendary American actor and director Robert Redford is set to receive an honorary Cesar award, France’s equivalent of the Oscars, at the 44th annual César ceremony, which will take place on Feb. 22 in Paris. “An iconic actor, an exceptional director, a passionate producer, founder and president of Sundance, the most revered festival of independent [...]

  • Goteborg: Co-writer Hakan Lindhe on Viaplay’s

    Co-Writer Hakan Lindhe on Politics, Image in Viaplay’s ‘The Inner Circle’

    David Ehrling, Sweden’s Minister for Enterprise, who is tipped to be its next Prime Minister, spends a lot of the time in Sweden’s “The Inner Circle” not preparing his speeches, or in impassioned discussion of key political issues, but staring into the mirror, rain checking on his strong-jawed image. He spends much of his enterprise, [...]

  • 'Invisibles' Director Louis-Julien Petit On His

    'Invisibles' Director Louis-Julien Petit on his Socially-Minded Smash

    PARIS —  Far from a dumping ground, the months of January and February have become synonymous in France with the kinds of highly polished crowd-pleasing comedies that dominate the annual box-office. This year is no exception, only nestled among the likely blockbusters “Serial Bad Weddings 2” and “City Hunter” is Louis-Julien Petit’s socially minded dramedy [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content