‘War Horse’ Screenwriter Richard Curtis Talks About ‘Trash,’ A Project For ‘Extremely Loud’ Director Stephen Daldry

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by Jen Vineyard
December 10, 2011 8:53 AM
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Richard Curtis -- who wrote "Four Weddings and a Funeral, "Bridget Jones's Diary" and directed "Love Actually" and "Pirate Radio" -- has much to celebrate with his adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's "War Horse" hitting theaters later this month, but he's not taking any time off. He's already hard at work on his next adaptation of another children's book by a British author, this time to be directed by Stephen Daldry for Working Title. Andy Mulligan's second novel is called "Trash," but to Curtis, it's pure gold.

"It's a beautiful book," Curtis told The Playlist when in New York this past week to promote "War Horse."

The story concerns three street kids -- Raphael, Gardo, and Rat -- who have no homes, no parents, no money, and no education. They live in an unnamed third world country and survive by picking through a mostly human waste-filled garbage dump on the outskirts of a large city. One day, one of them finds a small leather bag with a wallet with some money and an ID card, a folded-up map, and a key. A police officer offers a reward for this parcel, but that makes them realize something's amiss, and they decide to hang on to it. That decision puts them in danger and they're soon on a mission, having to lie, steal and fight against corrupt forces in both the corporate world and the government.

"I've done a first version of the script," Curtis said, "but it's a matter of time before I'm done. In a funny way, it's a question of how much of the story is the book, and how much is the movie. I have to find the movie, rather than just use the text of the book."

Curtis said that they'll likely cast unknowns to play the three boys, "who will probably not speak English" in the film, but rather, "the language of their place." Since that place is undetermined in the book, the filmmakers are currently trying to decide where in the world to shoot, and that location will help determine casting. "Maybe the Philippines," Curtis said. "We're thinking about that, and it might be there, but we may end up somewhere else." Whichever location they decide, he said, it needs to be near a known city, so it would be reasonable for the kids to think of it as "a brilliant city."

"We need to seem like we're there," he said.

Other parts that would need to be cast include a priest/teacher named Father Jullliard and his naive assistant Olivia. Shooting is expected to start next year.

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1 Comment

  • James | December 10, 2011 5:12 PMReply

    Very excited about this one. While it sounds slightly similar to SLUMDOG, I'm sure it'll have its own identity. Richard Curtis is an underrated genius. The kind of character-based humor he writes, where we never laugh AT the characters, but laugh with the recognition of our shared humanity when they make mistakes, is SO much harder to write than the nasty stuff that fills 99% of comedies. And he understands structure and well-developed supporting characters like nobody's business. He's one of the greats.

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