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'Precious' Author Geoffrey Fletcher Talks Eccentric Girl-Assassin Debut 'Violet & Daisy,' Starring Ronan and Bledel

Photo of John Anderson By John Anderson | Thompson on Hollywood June 7, 2013 at 4:21PM

“Precious: Based on the Novel PUSH by Sapphire” was Geoffrey Fletcher’s first professionally produced script. “The irony,” he said back in 2009, “is that I feel like I’m a veteran at the same time.” After all, he was directing homemade, stop-motion thrillers -- starring his toys -- when he was 14. As a psych major at Harvard, he made noirs and docs. And as a graduate film student at NYU, he made “Magic Markers,” which caught the attention of both John Singleton and “Precious” director Lee Daniels, who asked him to adapt the Sapphire book. The result was an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, the first won by an African-American.
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Alexis Bledel and Saoirse Ronan in "Violet & Daisy"
Alexis Bledel and Saoirse Ronan in "Violet & Daisy"

“Precious: Based on the Novel PUSH by Sapphire” was Geoffrey Fletcher’s first professionally produced script. “The irony,” he said back in 2009, “is that I feel like I’m a veteran at the same time.” After all, he was directing homemade, stop-motion thrillers -- starring his toys -- when he was 14. As a psych major at Harvard, he made noirs and docs. And as a graduate film student at NYU, he made “Magic Markers,” which caught the attention of both John Singleton and “Precious” director Lee Daniels, who asked him to adapt the Sapphire book. The result was an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, the first won by an African-American.

“Violet & Daisy,” which opens Friday, is Fletcher’s big-screen directorial debut, the story of teenage girl assassins (Saoirse Ronan, Alexis Bledel) and their run-in with James Gandolfini. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it shows Fletcher’s twin fascinations with grit and fantasy --  it was he, not Sapphire, who created the blonde-white-girl hallucinations that Precious has in that film. And it was Fletcher who expanded Lenny Kravitz’s nurse character, who in the book was mentioned only in passing. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to bring in a male character that was positive,” Fletcher said, acknowledging that there weren’t many.

“Violet & Daisy” he said this week, “sprang from my love of two great genres. It blends and bends crime and coming-of-age while examining friendship, love, girl power, materialism, celebrity fixation, regret and redemption.”

He said a gifted former film student -- he teaches at Columbia and NYU -- saw an advance screening of “Violet & Daisy” and later asked “if I were afraid while taking so many chances, thematically and stylistically. I said that I think a degree of fear is healthy but it is important to be driven by desire and curiosity above all.”

An adjunct professor at Columbia University and New York University, Fletcher possesses an uncompromising approach to movies. The “Precious” script was a perilous thing; “Violet & Daisy” is not the work of someone looking to game the system. He’s a black man who, when given the opportunity to produce a feature with well-known names, made an eccentric risky film. In this world, that makes him rather special.

"Violet & Daisy" hits theaters on June 7.

This article is related to: Reviews, Interviews, Geoffrey Fletcher, Geoffrey Fletcher, Violet & Daisy, Saoirse Ronan, Alexis Bledel


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.