Jeff Bridges spoke of his 19-year journey to bring Lois Lowry’s novel to the big screen at a thoughtful panel hosted by The Weinstein Company on Thursday (24).
Bridges had originally intended to direct The Giver himself and have his father Lloyd play the eponymous role that he himself would eventually take on.
“It was a terrific children’s book but also I enjoyed it so much as an adult and loved its themes and poetry,” Bridges told Hall H.
“I tried to get it made for 18 or 19 years and it proved to be difficult because it was controversial. Lois and I were in Las Vegas at a banned book conference [discussing it.]
“But it was taught in schools. That controversy scared some financiers away but it inspired some and I am so glad The Weinstein Company and Walden had the courage to put this out.”
Lowry seemed to have been taken aback by the way the book has ruffled feathers in the past, although she knew which two sequences in the book were likely to be the offending passages.
One occurs where a man kills an infant and another, which was cut from the film, involves a 12-year-old boy bathing a naked old woman.
Phillip Noyce directed the story, which takes place in a futuristic society where a youngster receives memory implants to use in case his emotionless fellow citizens find themselves in need of advice.
Brenton Thwaites plays the young protagonist and Meryl Streep is the Chief Elder in a role that from the footage at least did not seem too dissimilar to that of Kate Winslet in Divergent.
“I wanted to go back into the book and make the role of the chief Elder what Meryl did with it,” said Loewry.”It was a small role in the book.”
Bridges said the film-makers made a conscious decision to cast actors older than the characters in the book.
“You can work them harder,” he joked, before telling how his parents put him in a film as a baby with Jane Greer [The Company She Keeps]. His mother instructed the actress to pinch the toddler Bridges to make him cry.
The Giver is set to open on August 11.