Leslye Headland On Adapting David Mamet For ABOUT LAST NIGHT Remake
Screenwriter and director Leslye Headland discusses her unique role in adapting the hit David Mamet play SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN CHICAGO and its subsequent 1986 film adaptation titled ABOUT LAST NIGHT into the new feature film comedy of the same name as part of an intriguing and revealing new essay.
Discussing her initial reticence at taking on the project originally penned by a noted Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Headland remarks, "When I was hired to write Screen Gems' remake of About Last Night, I was nervous about a lot of things. How was I going to capture the bittersweet romantic comedy of the original 1986 film written by the awesome Tim Kazurinsky and Denise DeClue? What about the acerbic no-holds- barred sexual frankness of its source material, the play Sexual Perversity in Chicago by the immortal David Mamet? And if that wasn't enough pressure, I also had never written a studio comedy! My only credits at the time were some plays and one season as a staff writer."
Furthermore, Headland addresses the racial overtones implicit in employing an all-African American cast for the remake, stating, "I had some very interesting reactions to the casting specifically from white people who work in the movie industry. While I was doing the rewrite, I got dozens of really mean jokes most of which I don't feel comfortable putting into writing here because they were sometimes racist and always hurtful. The most clever one (still lame) was: "How's your David Blamet script going?" It was like my script was suddenly not as good or less than or just plain not cool because of the casting. Whatever. Those people suck."
Additionally, Headland concludes that her experience turned out to be nothing but positive and the Mamet story and prototypes live on in the new edition, writing, "It touched my heart that they all stuck so closely to my script. It meant those brilliant actors trusted the characters. Characters that were around long before I got there. It meant the filmmakers, including the wildly talented director Steve Pink and force-of-nature producer Will Packer, believed in the story. A story that has survived and morphed for thirty years. And it meant I had lived up to the promise I made myself every time I sat down at that wretched laptop: "Don't write jokes, Leslye. Write people."
Check out the original article on the matter here.