John Steinbeck's East of Eden Gets a Director and Writer
by Kevin Powers
January 14, 2009
Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment most recently optioned Nobel Prize-winner John Steinbeck's novel "East of Eden" back in 2004 (you can thank Oprah for that) and are finally hoping to begin production on the big-screen adaptation later this year. The studios have secured both a director and writer for the project -- Tom Hooper of HBO's "John Adams" and Christopher Hampton of Atonement -- despite earlier reports that Ron Howard and Paul Attanasio (The Good German) were involved. The 1952-published story spans 728 pages and, to crudely summarize, centers on life of the Trask brothers, Charles and Adam, drawing heavy inspiration from the Biblical story of Cain and Abel.
Of the sprawling material, Hooper said, "There is an opportunity to show the sex, violence and darkness of Steinbeck's work, along with the optimism and celebration of love." While Hooper lacks extensive film experience one would think needed to handle Steinbeck's work, he did helm 2004's Red Dust with Hilary Swank -- did anyone see that? -- and won a Director's Guild Award for his work on "John Adams". Eden was originally brought to the big screen back in 1955. That version with James Dean focused solely on the second-half of the story and had James Dean playing Adam's son Caleb. I'd venture to say Hooper's take will surface the entire story, which means Hampton has quite the task ahead of him. Interested?