At the 2006 Comic-Con International we sat in on a roundtable discussion with screenwriter Jane Goldman. She was on hand to talk about her work adapting Neil Gaiman's highly popular novel Stardust to the big screen.
Working hand in hand with director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake), Stardust is a fantasy, adventure love story. In the sleepy English village of Wall a young man named Tristian (Charlie Cox) goes on a quest to win the heart of his beloved, Vicotria (Sienna Miller). His journey in search of a falling star Yvaine (Clarie Danes) takes him into a magical world where he faces the witch, Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) and a pirate, Capitan Shakespeare (Robert De Niro). Adapted from the 1997 award-winning novel written by Neil Gaiman (Princess Mononoke, Beowulf).
Was it scary adapting a book like Stardust which has such a large fanbase?
Jane Goldman: Absolutely. (Laughs) The numbers of them, it makes it quite daunting but I think what was so reassuring was that Neil trusted myself and Matthew. Whenever you see a movie of a book you love you always imagine what the characters are like, and they may be different than the way they imagined it when they were casting it.
What about how the ending is different from the book?
Jane Goldman: I think the integrity is there. I don't think there was any sense of Hollywoodizing it. The book is the book and it will always be there. It's a quiet ending. In the book it's a contemplative ending which I think you could certainly do that in a movie. In terms of the story we were telling, I don't think it was the right... we are telling the same story and I think in many ways there's a lot about the ending that is pretty true to the book, even thought it's... . I think it feels right and certainly Neil... feels that it feels right to him.
Matthew Vaughn said that he wrote the first draft of the script and he's a terrible writer. Do you agree?
Jane Goldman: (Laughs) It wasn't quite... Matthew had written a very detailed outline of exactly what he wanted to do. You know I've not seen anything Matthew's written. Matthew didn't really do work on the dialogue, not in the sense that it would be used. It was more a sense of the way he wanted to tell the story. His line was always, "You're the writer." Although he was terribly involved in the writing process.
Who's decision was it to inject more humor into the script
Jane Goldman: It just sort of of happened. It wasn't that we sat down and had meetings and said, "Oh, lets make it... lets add more humor to it." (Laughs) I think in terms of the casting... the script's got a lot of humor to it. The book's very wide but I could see why it doesn't necessarily translate, you've got to amp it up a bit. I enjoy writing comedies and I like to laugh. I think a lot of the characters are funny anyway.
What was it like when you found out Robert DeNiro and Michelle Pfeiffer were going to be in the film?
Jane Goldman: That was just incredibly exciting and I kept thinking I'd dreamt the phone calls from Matthew when he informed me about it. It's just indescribably exciting to get a cast... I was so excited that we had Claire Danes because I just think she's such a great actress. She's so perfect for Yvaine. I think everyone has their own ideas about what Yvaine would be like, but certainly she is so very smart so I'm happy.
Are there any major changes in the characters from the book?
Jane Goldman: I don't think that there are major changes. I think, Neil has said himself, there's so many things that completely sprung to life from the book. I hope that fans of the book will find it there and they're smiling in recognition of things just as they imagined them. I'm hoping that there are things that contribute to it being a different story. I know when I love a book, I think I would find it kind of dull to see it... I've already imagined it in my head exactly as I'd quite like it to be told.
Have you got any projects coming up?
Jane Goldman: Nothing concrete. I've got some things I'm supposed to do but nothing I can really talk about. It's odd because I have literally been on set for an incredibly long time, so I haven't really had time to come up with anything of my own at all. I wouldn't change it for the world, though. It's been amazing.
Stardust comes to theaters March 9th, 2007 through Paramount Pictures.