Calvin is a young novelist who achieved phenomenal success early in his career but is now struggling with his writing - as well as his ...
Rating: R for language including some sexual references, and for some drug use
Length: 104 minutes
Released: July 25, 2012 Limited
Cast: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening, Steeve Coogan
Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Writer: Zoe Kazan
The young actors Zoe Kazan and Paul Dano have been a Hollywood couple for five years now. So if Zazan, who is also a playwright and screenwriter, were to script a movie that might star Dano as a novelist who dreams up and puts on the page his "dream girl," she might look an awful lot like ... Zoe Kazan.
Not that "Ruby Sparks" happened that way. Not according to Kazan.
"Other people say 'I had to write myself a part,' but that wasn't my primary motivation," Kazan says."The story came first, I started showing it to Paul and he said 'Are you writing it for us?' The thought hadn't occurred to me."
That's her story and she's sticking to it. And her directors, the married couple Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, back her up.
"Paul called her out," Faris says with a chuckle. "He said 'If she's writing a couple, she must be writing it for us.'"
They'd just worked on the Western "Meek's Cutoff" together. Now it was up to Kazan to create characters for them to play and a script sharp enough to attract the couple who co-directed "Little Miss Sunshine." No pressure there.
But it paid off. Rolling Stone says that Kazan, a "strikingly gifted actress" wrote a movie that "is honest, deep and true." The way Kazan managed that it was to cook up a woman who is almost entirely unlike Zoe Kazan, a veteran actress, the 28-year-old grandchild of Hollywood director Elia Kazan.
"She's not based on me," Kazan says of Ruby. "I'm a much cloudier person. She's very straightforward."
She wanted to write "the sort of woman" Calvin, the film's young, once-successful now blocked novelist "could fall in love with - quirky, flawed and cute."
"I tried as much as I could to stay out of her way, writing her," Kazan says. "Calvin talks in the movie about how she just sort of arrived for him, and that's how I feel about writing her. Sometimes, you just start hearing voices and realize that you're not going crazy. It's the character telling you who she is."
Ruby is adoring but vulnerable, sassy and complicated. Co-director Dayton says he and Faris were drawn to this offbeat romance by the fact that it was offbeat, "genre-bending." It's a blend of fantasy and romance.
"We hadn't seen this version of 'Pygmalian' before," Dayton says, referring to George Bernard Shaw's ultimate story of a man who creates his ideal mate. And Ruby, Calvin's creation, "says a lot about who Calvin is. He doesn't imagine the generic perfect woman. He imagines a woman who is appealing to him. So he thinks of her as somebody who will challenge him. She's never read his book, or even F. Scott Fitzgerald."
Faris adds that she and Dayton were drawn to the movie's notion of two romantic diamonds in the rough, and Kazan says that to her, is the most romantic thing there is. "God knows how you explain REAL relationships," she says with a giggle, referring to the five years she and Dano ("Little Miss Sunshine") have been together. "The most romantic thing to me, in this, is this idea that you have to love people for who they are. It may not be the typical romantic message. But I find this idea that we're all 'enough,' that we're worth loving, just the way we are, is very romantic."