A feature film adaptation of Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay has been in the works for nearly a decade now. The book was published in 2000 and centers on two Jewish cousins who collaborate during World War II to work on a new American novelty: the comic book. The novel spans multiple continents and and culminates in the dawn of the Golden Age of comic books. Soon after its publication, producer Scott Rudin began work on a feature film adaptation. After years of troubles adapting the expansive book into a succinct feature script, director Stephen Daldry (The Reader) signed on to take the helm. Numerous actors were rumored to be involved (Natalie Portman, Andrew Garfield, and Tobey Maguire), but the project found itself lodged in development hell.
Steve recently got the chance to speak with Daldry about his upcoming drama Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (also produced by Rudin), and the director revealed that he’d now like to adapt the novel into an 8-part miniseries for HBO. Hit the jump to see what he had to say.
In his interview with Daldry, Steve asked the director if he would ever consider working in TV given the fantastic storytelling currently taking place on the small screen, and Daldry answered affirmatively:
“I would love to do something for TV…I wanna do Kavalier & Clay on HBO as an eight-parter. It’ll be so much better as a series, honestly.”
First off, it’s assuring that Daldry hasn’t given up on Kavalier & Clay given the difficult development period the project has gone through. More interesting, though, is the fact that Daldry has an exact number in mind for how many installments a miniseries adaptation of the novel would take. It sure sounds like he’s been thinking about a miniseries iteration for a while, and it appears he’s figured out just how to split it up.
When asked whether or not he has the rights to the book, Daldry had this to say:
“What a good question. Well I spent a year working on it with Michael Chabon, so we’re pretty close. And the rights, good question. Will Paramount give them to me? I don’t know.”
While I’m not super familiar with Kavalier & Clay, after looking into the book and seeing how enthusiastic about the adaptation Daldry is, it’s quickly become a must-read for me. HBO is home to some of the best storytelling of any medium, and this seems to fit perfectly into their wheelhouse. I sincerely hope Daldry gets his wish. You listening Paramount and HBO? Make this happen.
Steve: TV has become huge with such excellent storytelling on channels like AMC, FX, and HBO, is there any desire for you to do anything in the TV world?
Stephen Daldry: I would love to do something for TV.
Is there something that’s been bubbling up?
Daldry: Yeah I wanna do Kavalier & Clay on HBO as an eight-parter.
That is where it deserves to be, I love that book.
Daldry: It’ll be so much better as a series, honestly. If you could put that in the article and ring up HBO and tell them that’s what I wanna do, I’d really appreciate it.
Oh I have no problem doing that. Do you have the rights or is this just like the dream?
Daldry: What a good question. Well I spent a year working on it with Michael Chabon, so we’re pretty close. And the rights, good question. Will Paramount give them to me? I don’t know.
You guys need to do that. HBO is where it deserves to be.
Daldry: It’ll be a really good one. It’d go great with Boardwalk Empire.
It is New York City in 1939. Joe Kavalier, a young artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just pulled off his greatest feat to date: smuggling himself out of Nazi-occupied Prague. He is looking to make big money, fast, so that he can bring his family to freedom. His cousin, Brooklyn’s own Sammy Clay, is looking for a collaborator to create the heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit the American dreamscape: the comic book. Out of their fantasies, fears, and dreams, Joe and Sammy weave the legend of that unforgettable champion the Escapist. And inspired by the beautiful and elusive Rosa Saks, a woman who will be linked to both men by powerful ties of desire, love, and shame, they create the otherworldly mistress of the night, Luna Moth. As the shadow of Hitler falls across Europe and the world, the Golden Age of comic books has begun.
The brilliant writing that has led critics to compare Michael Chabon to John Cheever and Vladimir Nabokov is everywhere apparent in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. Chabon writes “like a magical spider, effortlessly spinning out elaborate webs of words that ensnare the reader,” wrote Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times about Wonder Boys—and here he has created, in Joe Kavalier, a hero for the century. [Amazon]