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Interview: Alan Glynn, Irish Writer Talks 'Limitless' Movie
23 Mar 2011 : By Aileen Moon
Limitless Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper
New thrill, ‘Limitless’ opens in cinemas across Europe today. The film is currently topping the U.S. box office and, to mark both events, IFTN caught up with Dublin author Alan Glynn whose first novel, ‘The Dark Fields’ was adapted by Leslie Dixon to become the film which stars Bradley Cooper (The Hangover), Robert deNiro (Goodfellas) ad Abbie Cornish (Bright Star).

Directed by Neil Burger (The Illusionist), ‘Limitless’ sees Bradley Cooper’s aspiring author, Eddie Morra suffering from chronic writer’s block. His life changes instantly when an old friend introduces him to NZT, a revolutionary new pharmaceutical that allows him to tap his full potential. Eddie can recall everything he has ever read, seen or heard, learn any language in a day, comprehend complex equations and beguile anyone he meets—as long as he keeps taking the untested drug.

Soon Eddie takes Wall Street by storm and he soon catches the eye of mega-mogul Carl Van Loon, played by Robert De Niro, who invites him to help broker the largest merger in corporate history. But they also bring Eddie to the attention of people willing to do anything to get their hands on his stash of NZT. With his life in jeopardy and the drug’s brutal side effects taking their toll, Eddie dodges mysterious stalkers, a vicious gangster and an intense police investigation as he attempts to hang on to his dwindling supply long enough to outwit his enemies.

The film was adapted by Leslie Dixon (Hairspray, The Thomas Crown Affair), based on the novel ‘The Dark Fields’ by Alan Glynn. Alan is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, where he studied English Literature, and has worked in magazine publishing in New York and as an EFL teacher in Italy. ‘The Dark Fields’ was published in 2002 and his second novel, ‘Winterland’, was published in 2009. We spoke to him about the process of ‘The Dark Fields’ becoming the movie, ‘Limitless’.

IFTN: How did the ‘Limitless’ film adaptation come about?

Alan Glynn: Miramax optioned the rights to ‘The Dark Fields’ when I had finished it and before it was published, I expected it to sit on a shelf for years somewhere then but Leslie came across it in 2002 and loved it. So, she went searching for the rights owners and wrote a letter directly to Harvey Weinstein basically saying, ‘I’ll do up a script for the film and if you like it you can make it but otherwise I’d like to buy the rights.’ And then she made the clever move of writing the script up quickly and sending it in to them when the Cannes festival was on. Everyone was too busy to read it, as she had expected, so she bought the rights and set about making the film.

IFTN: Had you any desire to write the screenplay for it yourself?

Alan Glynn: No, I find that I spend so much time writing my books that once they’re finished I don’t want to revisit them. I had been so involved with the story that I knew I didn’t want to revisit that world.

IFTN: So, how involved – if at all – were you with the process of writing the script?

Alan Glynn: Leslie contacted me at the very start of the process with a few questions and we got on great so I trusted her completely to do the book justice. She was really passionate about the film and we were in touch throughout which is very unusual because usually the writers sign everything over and then hear nothing back until the film is in the cinemas. So I really appreciated the relationship I had with Leslie.

IFTN: Did you get to visit the ‘Limitless’ set?

Alan Glynn: Yes, I went to the set last April for one of the exterior shots in New York. It was a really weird feeling because we were all gathered there on the Brooklyn Bridge at 6am watching these characters who I had created. The whole area was brought to standstill, traffic stopped and everything. Neil Burger came up to me and said ‘You’ve pulled down 5th avenue!’ It was amazing.
Alan Glynn
Alan Glynn (Wireimage)

IFTN: Having seen the film, is it what you expected?

Alan Glynn: I really loved it. My only regret is that they didn’t look at the darker, chilling aspects that I had in the book. Leslie originally came up with a brilliant script with a different ending again to the book but the studio decided not to go with it, which is quite a pity. Still though, I love what she did with the book.

I was slightly apprehensive when I went to the Ney York premiere because there had been arguments between the director and the producers but I really liked it.

IFTN: Did you like the actors who were cast in the film, I would imagine Robert De Niro’s involvement was a highlight?

Alan Glynn: I had to look up who Bradley Cooper was when they first suggested him! ‘The Hangover’ wasn’t out yet and he wasn’t as big as he is now. Shia leBeouf was originally signed on to play the lead but he had to pull out. I was quite glad about that because he is that bit too young. When Robert De Niro got involved the project was upped a couple of notches, definitely. It had this additional gravitas when his name was attached to it.

IFTN: Has the experience made you want to look at the area of screenplay writing at all?

Alan Glynn: Well I have written a few scripts already but have yet to get anywhere with them. I showed them to Leslie actually who really liked them. I also have a novel about crime in Dublin called ‘Winterland’ that I pitched to RTÉ twice as a four part drama but they’re not interested.

At the same time I look at Leslie who is a top level writer and still all her decisions – every single line – is questioned by studio execs etc., and none of them are writers. I would find that terribly frustrating.

  • The other ’Limitless’ cast members include Anna Friel (You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger), Andrew Howard (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), Johnny Whitworth (3:10 to Yuma) and Thomas Arana (The Bourne Supremacy). The film’s producers are Leslie Dixon, Ryan Kavanaugh (Robin Hood, Skyline) and Scott Kroopf (Breach, The Hunting Party). Director of photography is Jo Willems (30 Days of Night).

  • ‘Limitless’ took $18.9 m in its opening weekend across the U.S. The film starts its Irish theatrical release today, March 25th. For film times see local press.

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