A film adaptation of The Stars My Destination has been in development for decades, but no filmmaker has managed to crack Alfred Bester’s influential 1957 sci-fi novel. While it begins with a plotline that’s kind of like The Count of Monte Cristo in outer space, it branches out into a lot of direction, some of which would never make the cut in a modern day film adaptation (for example, the protagonist, Gully Foyle, rapes a woman at one point). It’s an incredible difficult text, but if you can cut around the bad parts and play up the good ones, you could have a pretty powerful story.
Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Kong: Skull Island) signed on to direct The Stars My Destination back in 2015, and while talking to him about the trailer he directed for Destiny 2, we discussed why he found The Stars My Destination such an appealing project:
Well, apparently, I have a stupid knack for wanting to take on projects that people call “unfilmable.” Maybe I’m a masochist. Stars is just a really great book because Alfred Bester, when he was writing, he was one of the few writers who prose writing back then was a real sense of style. A lot of sci-fi from that era, when you read it, it was incredible ideas, just some of the most thoughtful things you’ve encountered, but it was ultimately very dry. When you read Bester … he’s only written a couple books and some short stories, but it’s so explosive.
It’s literally like each page of “The Stars My Destination” almost has enough ideas in it that could fill an entire movie normally. Stars is borderline one of those books like Neuromancer or John Carter or things like that that has almost been deeply mined for its ideas already, except I still think there’s an incredible amount of relevance to it and I think that the ending of that book sticks the landing in such a profound way. I love the characters. I love the sort of antihero and protagonist. I love the journey he goes on. I mean, it’s so filled with different ideas and the way that I want to make it I think is very fresh and interesting.
Look, I would love to make it as a self-contained movie, but we also now live in an age where it would make an incredible limited series. That’s a story I would love to tell. If I don’t tell it, I’m going to make sure Park Chan-wook makes it, because he’s been very vocal about always wanting to have made that. We had a conversation about it once. He’s my favorite filmmaker on the planet, so I feel very conflicted having a property that he himself wants to make. But it’s just one of the most special books that I’ve ever read.
It’s unclear what direction The Stars My Destination is going to take, and it sounds like the project is still in early development with Vogt-Roberts trying to avoid the pitfalls a film like John Carter fell into where it was cited as “derivative” even though the source material had functioned as the inspiration for countless other works. While I wouldn’t expect to see The Stars My Destination any time soon, hopefully Vogt-Roberts will be the one to finally get the book to the big screen.
Look for my full interview with Vogt-Roberts later this week.