THE GIVER COMES TO THE BIG SCREEN
It took nearly 18 years for Lois Lowry’s most celebrated young adult novel, “The Giver,” to come to the big screen. The book tells a story about a future society that, to spare the human race from pain and suffering, has eliminated all emotion. Only one person — The Giver (played by Jeff Bridges) — maintains a record of the human experience in his mind, and it’s time for him to pass those memories on to Jonas, The Receiver (Brenton Thwaites).
“The movie made much more complex the character of the Chief Elder,” the head of the society, Lowry says. “And then once they cast Meryl Streep — who never would have taken the role the way I wrote it in the book — the quality of her acting, just the turn of her eyes or the way her mouth curves, it was astounding to watch her. Now I wish I could go back and write the book the way she performed it.”
Bridges was attached as a producer from the beginning, though he had originally intended to cast his father, Lloyd, who died in 1998, as The Giver. Other casting choices shed new light on characters that had existed only in Lowry’s head.
“The two who kind of surprised me were Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgard [as Jonas’ parents], both of whom are noted for their beauty,” Lowry says. “With Skarsgard, there are websites dedicated to how hunky and sexy he is, and they’re both cast in these roles where there is no sexuality and a coldness to them. They’re cast against type, and that’s really interesting.”
Having spent a week on the set, the 77-year-old author says she might like to change one other thing. “After they had finished filming they asked me down to watch some post-production stuff,” Lowry says. “I found it all quite fascinating. I want to be young again and go back and study filmmaking.”
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