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David Foster Wallace Estate Not Cool With Jason Segel & Jesse Eisenberg's 'The End Of The Tour'

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by Ben Brock
April 23, 2014 12:41 PM
2 Comments
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Literary eyebrows were raised all over the place when we learned, late last year, that Jason Segel was set to play celebrated writer David Foster Wallace in James Ponsoldt's biopic “The End of the Tour," which will adapt journalist David Lipsky's account of accompanying Wallace on a book tour just as “Infinite Jest” was making him a strange kind of superstar (Jesse Eisenberg will play Lipsky). People had trouble imagining arch-slacker and Muppet-lover Segel embodying the depressive Wallace, though the physical resemblance in the first images from the set was pretty impressive.

In fact, Segel is probably quite a brilliant choice: Wallace's writing is full of underappreciated humour, and Segel, himself an underappreciated performer, is undoubtedly able to walk the fine line between pot-smoking slacker and awkward neurotic that Wallace seems to have been. Nevertheless, Wallace's estate announced yesterday that it disagrees, and indeed thinks the whole film is a bad idea, making clear that they "have no connection with, and neither endorse nor support" the production and that "the trust [Wallace's estate] was given no advance notice that this production was underway" and that the film "is loosely based on transcripts from an interview David consented to 18 years ago for a magazine article... That article was never published and David would have never agreed that those saved transcripts could later be repurposed as the basis of a movie."

The estate's st's statement will probably only serve to increase interest in the movie and fuel the debate around a writer who was being idolized and obsessed over even before he took his own life in 2008: and we confess we're among those who are intrigued to see what “The End of the Tour” is like. While we wait for more news on it, including a release date, go and read some Wallace: you won't regret it.

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2 Comments

  • BERT GARDNER | April 23, 2014 1:19 PMReply

    I have to say, this is one of the few level-headed news entries I've seen about the statement from the DFW estate, or maybe it's just that most other outlets simply quoted the churlish and hotly-worded statement itself without offering any perspective or commentary, so bravo.

    Anyone who would decry the movie sight unseen is either simply opposed to a movie about DFW on principle (a pretty difficult principle to support, unless one objects to movies about actual humans in general--then again, that would also be difficult to support) or else is obviously unfamiliar with Ponsoldt's previous work, particularly his deft mix of drama and humor and the thoughtful performances he regularly gets from his actors. Similarly, the apparently knee-jerk rejection of Jason Segel in anything other than the kinds of roles he's previously played betrays a simplistic view of what acting is and a kind of stubborn blindness with regard to potential.

    That said, you do repeat the common error of referring to "The End of the Tour" as a biopic. As anyone who's read the book on which its based can tell you, it is not in any respect a biography of David Foster Wallace. That is, unless one considers "All the President's Men" to be a biography of Carl Bernstein, or "Melvin and Howard" to be a biography of Howard Hughes.

  • Rob | April 23, 2014 1:09 PMReply

    coming soon to a cinema near you: David Foster Wallace: Cult Writer!

    lolz.

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