Nick Hornby joined crowds of High Fidelity fans at the Genesis Cinema in East London recently for a special charity Q&A where he discussed his writing, his involvement in the adaptations of his books and his work as a screenwriter. (Check out Ministry of Stories for more on the great work they do.)
From casting the then-unknown Jack Black to why writing roles for women gets you the absolute best options, here are the highlights of what Hornby had to say.
And stay in touch with the lovely folks over at Genesis for more of these brilliant events, coming soon.
Many thought that translating the book of High Fidelity (which is set in London) to the streets of Chicago was an odd choice. However, Hornby says that when he met John Cusack and the others behind the film, he knew his story was in good hands.
‘These American guys came to me and said “This book is about us” and … that’s a very promising beginning, I think.’
Though Hornby did acknowledge that he had some doubts – namely, in the casting of the character Barry. ‘I’d written this character,’ he explained, ‘he’s this big monster and it turns out he can sing. It’s very easy to write this stuff [in a novel] … and when we talked [about the adaptation], I said “Well, good luck with casting that” and they said “We know him, we know that guy” and he hadn’t done anything like that at the time. I said “Who is he?” and they said “He’s this guy we know from round here and he’s in this band called Tenacious D and he’s very funny”.
The rest, as they say, is history.
When asked about the rumoured TV adaptation for High Fidelity (which will apparently be changing the central character to a woman), Hornby admitted that he knew as much as the rest of us, explaining that once the film and TV rights are sold they are under no obligation to keep him informed. Though it would be nice if they did…
Of course, Hornby is not all about the novels. He’s also a successful screenwriter, having penned the screenplays for Brooklyn, Wild and An Education, along with the TV show Love, Nina. And he had nothing but praise for his leading actresses, noting that ‘Saoirse Ronan is one of the best two or three actresses in the world.’ He added: ‘It’s one thing that I’ve learned from the last few years … if you write a script for a woman you will get your choice of the best actors in the world because there’s nothing for them … you’ve got this choice of all this awesome talent simply because there is little out there.’
So it’s time to let your imagination run wild – and get those stories out there!