Stephen Daldry on ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’

Eye on the Oscars: The Director - Stephen Daldry

Stephen Daldry does not believe any books are “unadaptable,” and as proof, he tackled bigscreen versions of “The Hours” and “The Reader” before turning his attention to Jonathan Safran Foer’s intricate post-9/11 tale.

“People said those books were unadaptable as well — particularly ‘The Hours,’?” he says. “The great thing about Jonathan’s book is that it has an incredible emotional charge.”

To translate Foer’s 368-page tome to a different medium, Daldry kept novelist involved with screenwriter Eric Roth’s various drafts of the story, which follows Oskar Schell (played by newcomer Thomas Horn) as he struggles with the death of his father (Tom Hanks) in the attacks on the World Trade Center.

“I come from the theater, so I really enjoy keeping my writers as close as I possibly can, and both of them were involved right through to the final editing stages,” he says.

For this lover of literary adaptations, the greatest challenge came from finding the right child to portray Oskar — the clever, curious and grief-stricken heart of the film. Daldry auditioned experienced child actors and unknowns in London and the U.S. before settling on Horn, whose only experience on camera was his winning stint on the Kids Week edition of the gameshow “Jeopardy!”

Popular on Variety

“He came with a huge amount of intelligence and emotional life, which was untrained but intuitive,” the director says.

Daldry, a three-time Oscar nominee, knows his filming and post-production schedule has left “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” off some critics’ top-10 lists. But Daldry says he wasn’t willing to sacrifice any portion of the film, which took seven months to shoot, just to fit groups’ deadlines.

“I’m sorry that critics didn’t get to see it in time, but I literally finished the final mix at 6 a.m. this morning,” he said during a Dec. 1 interview with Variety. “You have to make a choice about whether you’re going to compromise the film to make deadlines or finish it the best way you know how.”

Helmers hot to globe trot
Woody Allen | Stephen Daldry | David Fincher | Michel Hazanavicius | Terrence Malick | Bennett Miller | Alexander Payne | Jason Reitman | Martin Scorsese | Steven Spielberg
In the Mix

More Film

  • The Invisible Man Movie

    Box Office: 'Invisible Man' Materializes With $1.7 Million on Thursday Night

    Universal’s “The Invisible Man” materialized with $1.7 million at 2,850 North American locations on Thursday night. “The Invisible Man” is expected to earn north of $20 million this weekend when it opens in 3,610 theaters across North America. Independent box office tracking services estimate ticket sales could wind up closer to $30 million since word [...]

  • Bob Iger arrives at the Oscars,

    Bob Iger Promised Diversity in Disney’s Executive Ranks by 2021

    “I’ll change that before I leave.” That was the simple, but loaded pledge made last September by Bob Iger, the Walt Disney Company’s former CEO and newly-minted executive chairman, when asked directly about his largely male, all-white executive leadership team. Iger made this inclusion “vow,” as New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd put it, last [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Everything Coming to Netflix in March

    Netflix is adding a robust line-up of popular programs to its slate in March. In addition to rom-coms like Matthew Mcconaughey’s “Ghosts of Girlfriend’s Past,” “He’s Just Not That Into You” and “Always a Bridesmaid,” the streamer is also adding a few classics like “Goodfellas” and “The Shawshank Redemption” starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins. [...]

  • B25_25594_RJames Bond (Daniel Craig) prepares to

    Hollywood Studios Assembling Coronavirus Strategy Teams

    As coronavirus continues its deadly march across the globe, the outbreak is wreaking havoc with Hollywood’s efforts to launch major movies and shows. In the process, companies are asking employees to delay work trips to countries such as China, Japan, Italy and South Korea, the regions that have been the most affected by the disease, [...]

  • Vincent Perez at the screening of

    Think Cinema Looks Forward Alongside Young Festivalgoers

    Last year, Think Cinema welcomed 10,000 attendees over the course of four days, marking a 33% increase in attendance from its inaugural edition. As the festival prepares its third go-round, founder and president Vincent Perez (pictured) anticipates a similar rise. Whatever the final number may be, it’s safe to say many of those attendees will [...]

  • Heavy Security at Cannes Film Festival

    Coronavirus in Cannes? Festival Monitoring 'Carefully' as First Case Confirmed

    The Cannes Film Festival has addressed the spread of coronavirus in Europe, mere hours after news broke on Friday of Cannes’ first case. “The Festival de Cannes is monitoring carefully the developments and the latest guidelines provided by the local, national and international authorities regarding the coronavirus, and is in direct link with the Alpes-Maritimes’ [...]

  • No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No

    Think Cinema's Vincent Perez on Exploring Why We Create Art

    In 2018, Swiss actor-director Vincent Perez teamed up with the Cinémathèque Suisse, the country’s premiere film archive, to launch a heritage film festival in the actor’s hometown of Lausanne. For its first edition, the event ran under the title r7al – the Rencontres 7e Art Lausanne – and was rebranded Think Cinema Lausanne the following [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content