With Halloween mere days away, it was a nice surprise when Neil Gaiman dropped by the MTV offices to discuss his latest project, "The Graveyard Book" -- now number one on its respective New York Times list. Given the intense interest in Hollywood to adapt it before it ever came out, we had to ask: Will there be a movie version?
Yes, according to Gaiman.
"I don't know if I can talk about this, but seeing that you've asked me, and seeing that I haven't been told by anybody that I can't talk about it," Neil revealed, "but yes."
Despite the various Hollywood studios who bid on "The Graveyard Book" -- a couple of which proposed to make the story about a boy raised by ghosts into an animated feature -- the author decided he wanted a live-action version instead ("I want to see the ghosts for real. I want to be able to touch the graveyard").
So Gaiman gave the OK to special effects house Framestore, who are "best known as the leading special effects house in the U.K.," he said. (Harvey Dent's transformation into Two-Face in "The Dark Knight"? That was Framestore).
"They want to start making films, and start producing their own films," Gaiman said. "And they read it, and they loved it, and I spoke to them, and they said all the right things, and they seem to listen. So I don't think it's going to be transported to a graveyard in Los Angeles where they've been burying bathing beauties or anything. I think we're actual going to stick with where the book is written and film that. And I think part of the idea is that they know they can also do the special effects cheaply."
That will be a big issue for this film, considering most of the characters are "dead, or werewolves, or ghouls, or something else mysterious," Gaiman said.
Exactly how that will be achieved -- what levels of transparency are the ghosts? How corporeal can they get? -- is "part of the fun of making the film," he said. "There's probably going to be an awful lot of screen tests to figure how you can pull it off in the subtlest, coolest, and most convincing way, and that will be a job for next year."
And so, it seems, will be casting the film.
"There's a part of me that just knows there will be an enormous joy for a director somewhere up the line in casting all these wonderful British actors," Gaiman said, "the same joy they have in the Harry Potter films, where you have the cream of English actors all come in and do their three weeks, and I think we're going to have that in 'The Graveyard Book.'" (Except for the lead, Nobody Owens. "I think you may want quite a few nobodys to play Nobody," Gaiman said, "because he gets to age from two-years-old to 16-years-old in the course of the book").
Like he did for "Stardust," Gaiman is aboard as a producer, to shepherd the movie along. "I'm really excited to see what happens," he said. "I think it's going to be really cool."
(You can download a full audio recording of Neil Gaiman reading "The Graveyard Book" at www.mousecircus.com.)
Have you read 'The Graveyard Book'? Who would you like to see play Silas? Or Miss Lupescu? Or Jack?