We Bought A Zoo Interview With The Screenwriter

We Bought A Zoo comes out in theaters tomorrow, December 23rd!
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I can hardly wait because it is SUCH a good movie.  It is a tear jerker that will challenge you to muster up 20 seconds of insane courage to do something great.  I had the privilege of attending a screening of We Bought A Zoo followed by an interview time with screenwriter, Aline Brosh McKenna.  She’s the screenwriter behind such movies as The Devil Wears Prada and 27 Dresses, which she wrote based on a friend of hers.

She commented on what specifically drew her to We Bought A Zoo.

Ms. McKenna: “Well, I loved the book.  I loved the story.  In fact, just the cover right away I was very drawn to, because I loved that the whole movie is sort of in the title.  It’s “We.”  It’s a family.  “We bought” which is not something you associate with a zoo.  “We bought” it and it’s a zoo, which is a really interesting world and workplace, I thought.

So, I loved it right away.  Then, I read the book and there is a page where Ben [Author Benjamin Mee], who wrote the book, actually describes all of the things that he misses about his wife and all of the things that remind him of her.  It’s so specific and it’s so detailed.”

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I found it very interesting that Ms. McKenna wrote the part of Benjamin Mee based on Matt Damon not knowing he would actually play the part.

Ms. McKenna: “I almost never do that.  I can’t think of another time when I’ve done that.  But, I was writing it and there was just this moment or two of the early drafts where I just thought, “That’s who I have in my mind,” because he’s very funny.  He has a twinkle in his eye.  And the material is already very dramatic.  He has a lot of dignity and intelligence and warmth and all these things that I felt like were really important to the character.  It wasn’t really a conscious thing.  It sort of flowed into my brain and then it became as I was writing, it became Matt Damon.  And it never, ever happens that anyone that would drift into your brain would be in the movie.”

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It was nice to know that, even though she wrote the screenplay, she cried just as much as we did when she saw it on the big screen.  I also found it fascinating how Cameron Crowe was able to bring Benjamin Mee’s late wife, Katherine to life even though she had no lines in the movie.

Ms. McKenna: “I just feel so honored, so privileged to be writing about Katherine [his wife] in any way.  I feel like it was such a precious thing that had been entrusted to me.  [The movie] captured the spirit of that, and he brought her to life.  I mean, she doesn’t really have any lines in the movie.  She has one line in the movie, but he brings her to life in this way that the way the photographs are done and the music on that and the dancing across the glasses.”

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WE BOUGHT A ZOO is a funny, inspiring and true story about the magical power of family to persevere in the face of extraordinary challenges.  This is acclaimed filmmaker Cameron Crowe’s (Jerry Maguire) first motion picture for all audiences, and stars Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson and Thomas Haden Church.  Damon portrays a single dad who, looking to give his family a much-needed fresh start, moves to a home situated in the middle of a zoo, which he and his two children will attempt to bring back to its once glorious state.  The film weaves together warmth, laughter and a spirit of optimism that is perfect for the holiday season.

I don’t usually rave about movies, but We Bought A Zoo is a serious must see!  Read my full review, and I’m sure you would agree.

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Photo Credit: Neal Preston – TM and © 2011 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

Disclosure : I attended a press junket in L.A. and saw a special screening of We Bought A Zoo.  Airfare and accommodation was provided by 20th Century Fox but no other monetary compensation was received.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.