Well just to clarify, the project right now is sort of in limbo. I was hired by Appian Way, which is Leonardo DiCaprio’s company. His father, George DiCaprio, has long wanted to adapt “Cat’s Cradle” into a film. Hilly Elkins has control of the novel and they came to me and asked me to adapt it. I was immediately very flattered and at the same time terrified. I could have either run for the hills or just said, “Why yes. I will try to do this.” I accepted their offer and I locked myself in a hotel room by the beach for about eight days and cranked out an adaptation of the novel. But it’s yet to be determined who is going to direct it, if it’s going to be Darren. I don’t know if it’s going to be Darren or not.
I think that they’re still figuring out exactly what they want to do with the project. It’s very much up in the air and in flux right now, so stayed tuned on that one (laughing). That’s another [project] that I can’t really talk too much about or else I might get into a lot of trouble, and I don’t want to upset anyone (laughing).
Popular opinion has it that there’s no way to adapt “Cat’s Cradle.” How did you do it?
I’ve taken significant liberties with the novel. I think I’ve done a very faithful interpretation. I tried to capture the essence of the novel. It’s a fairly radical adaptation. I’ve suggested to everyone involved that they call the film “Ice 9” instead of “Cat’s Cradle,” just to not raise the ire and the wrath of the Kurt Vonnegut Society. Just to let people know it’s more of an inspiration, it’s probably more ‘inspired by’ the novel. Although I think that I’ve tried to capture the essence of every single one of Mr. Vonnegut’s ideas and make them relevant. The novel is 40 years old and I’ve tried to take some of his visionary ideas and bring them to a modern audience, and make them accessible to a modern audience. My hope is that, if this film is made, that a whole new generation will discover the genius of Vonnegut.
I think you also have to be careful if you’re slavishly faithful to a piece of source material that is inherently uncinematic on many levels, that sometimes you can disparage the source material by tarnishing it with a film that doesn’t work.
And you crammed all those ideas into two hours?
(Laughing) Two and a half, really.
You’ve also written a script for Tony Scott’s “Domino.” That’s based on a true story?
Of a bounty hunter named Domino Harvey. I wouldn’t call it a traditional biopic; I would call it a pseudo-biopic. More in the tradition of what Charlie Kaufman did in “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.”
"Domino" is probably the best time I’ve ever had writing a script. I met with Tony about the project - it’s a project he’s been developing for about 9-10 years - and he’d worked with a lot of other writers on it. I was kind of like the fourth or the fifth writer to come to the table on the project. I came up with a take that he really liked. If he commits to direct it, it will definitely be the most bizarre and shocking thing that he’s ever done. I really hope that he makes this his next film because I really think, going back to “The Hunger” and even going back to “True Romance,” my favorite films of Tony’s are the ones where he taps into the madman. I think he has a Terry Gilliam kind of spirit inside of him that he doesn’t expose very often. I would love to see him expose that.
After working on it for so long, you’d think he’d jump on the project if he was presented with the right interpretation of the script.
Well, I hope so. I think he’s finishing “Man on Fire” right now and figuring out what exactly he’s going to do next, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Hopefully I can be persuasive.
You’re working with all these outstanding directors. Who is your dream collaborator?
I have several. I would love to write something for David Fincher. I’m angered that he hasn’t won an Oscar yet. My goal is to somehow help David Fincher win an Oscar before he turns 45. I would love to collaborate with him, I would love to collaborate with Terry Gilliam, and I would love to collaborate with Peter Weir. The list goes on and on and on and on.
I think that the greatest thing that I can do, as a writer, is to try to bring material to filmmakers who really deserve to getting the best material but either don’t have access to it, or there just isn’t enough good material around. I can write a lot; I’m a prolific writer, right now at least. I haven’t hit a wall yet (laughing). I can send some scripts to the filmmakers I admire. I would love to see someone else direct my words.