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'Game of Thrones' Writer Vanessa Taylor Talks Streep Drama 'Hope Springs'

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 8, 2012 at 12:14PM

Vanessa Taylor is enough of a TV whiz--her writing credits include "Alias," "Everwood" and "Tell Me You Love Me"--to land a co-executive producer spot on Seasons Two and Three of "Game of Thrones." But that was after she went off on her own, trying to combat writer's block, to write an original spec screenplay, "Hope Springs."
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Hope Springs
Hope Springs

Vanessa Taylor is enough of a TV whiz--her writing credits include "Alias," "Everwood" and "Tell Me You Love Me"--to land a co-executive producer spot on Seasons Two and Three of "Game of Thrones." She's the only woman in the room. But that was after she went off on her own, trying to combat a bout of writer's block, to write original spec screenplay "Hope Springs."

Along the way to getting that film made, she broke every rule. TV vet Taylor didn't know what she was doing on the movie side. As far as she was concerned, this was a script that would wind up a tiny indie. "I didn't care if it was commercial," she insists. That may have been a blessing. Taylor showed the script to the wife of Film 360 manager Guymon Casady, who also read it, took on Taylor as a client, brought in fellow producer Todd Black, who sent the script to Meryl Streep. She jumped on board and brought on "The Devil Wears Prada" director David Frankel. Then Sony backed the project, and Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell joined the cast. Sony opened the film August 8.

Vanessa Taylor
Vanessa Taylor

Taylor's drama is about a middle-aged husband and wife lost in a marriage gone stale who see a therapist about livening things up. Unmarried and younger than her main characters, who are somewhat inspired by her divorced parents, Taylor read books about marriage and sex counseling, and checked in with her psychiatrist father. And she's no stranger to the therapist's couch, she admits. "I was interested in the question of intimacy and distance, when it creeps into a previously close relationship. Is it possible to bridge that distance, the physical and emotional of it? I wondered about it in my own life. These characters were my way in to exploring that. Their problems were so stark. I wanted to see if I could imagine them solving their problems. I didn't know where I was going. I usually outline in a more detailed way."

While Taylor knows how TV works, she feels like a "neophyte on the feature side," she admits. "I find the feature side vastly more confusing, it seems more arbitrary, how it works. I've been in televison for long time, it makes sense to me. Moving from network to cable made sense. In the film world, I don't entirely get it, I get totally lost. It just doesn't seem to have the same predictable patterns."

In television, says Taylor, you either fit a show or you don't. "I've had times where I realized I was misplaced on a show, and could not hold my own, and was not long for that job. When you have something to say and you tap into it, you participate, it resonates with you. When it's not that way, oh God!"

This article is related to: Stuck In Love, Television, TV Features, TV Interviews, TV, Meryl Streep, Meryl Streep


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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.