Crouch elated with Shyamalan adaptation
IT’S one thing to be a successful novelist. But when your work piques the interest of a Hollywood heavyweight like M Night Shyamalan, that is a coup. No two ways about it.
And that’s where 37-year-old author Blake Crouch finds himself at the moment. After all, having the words of your novel immortalised on TV is a huge compliment.
On his age belying his achievements, Crouch notes: “To be fair, Wayward Pines is not my first book. But it is my first thing that’s been adapted for the screen.”
The story centres on Ethan Burke (played by Matt Dillon), a Secret Service agent, who arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, looking for two missing federal agents. However, a violent accident sees his investigation take a bizarre turn, with him uncovering more questions than answers.
On the town that inspired his tale, he says: “I’ve tried not to really identify the town. But I guess I have already talked about it. It’s a town in Colorado called Ouray, and it looks exactly like Wayward Pines looks on screen. It has these big looming mountains and I vacation there with my family. And I had several really strange experiences there. Including a run-in with the local sheriff. And that kind of led to this.”
Of course, when you sell the TV rights of your book, there is the risk that there might be a few creative liberties taken with the adapted version.
Crouch comments: “I don’t know of any writer who would not feel this was a dream come true. What was crazy about it was that we had M Night Shyamalan on board. And as our cast started coming on, we had Matt Dillon. Then we got Melissa (Leo). Then it was Terrence (Howard). It just started to balloon into this amazing gathering of incredible talent.”
And Crouch got to write a few episodes, too.
On the experience of entering a different realm, which took him out of his comfort zone, he admits: “I have never experienced any of that and really wanted to do the whole thing of meeting the actors, who were bringing these characters to life. And seeing all the interiors and just watching how the show was going to be made – and they were just super gracious.”
On Dillon essaying the lead role, Crouch reveals: “When I saw Matt’s performance, there was this beautiful, subtle humour that he brought to the role which I didn’t think were in the books.”
As for how faithful the series is to the book, he offers: “I think the paranoid atmosphere of the book and the show are one and the same. I also think straight adaptations are boring. I love No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy. It won the Oscar. But it is a straight adaptation of the book and it didn’t bring anything new to the story. I love that the TV show for Wayward Pines does things differently to the book. And when people watch the show, they will want to experience the books. I think it’s smart and it makes both of them companions to each other instead of just a repetition of the same idea.
• Wayward Pines airs on Fox (DStv channel 125) on Thursday, May 14 at 9.25pm.