Alex Proyas Tackling Robert Heinlein's Unpleasant Profession
by Alex Billington
August 20, 2008
Filmmaker Alex Proyas has directed an adaptation of an Isaac Asimov story before, but now he's tackling sci-fi author Robert Heinlein. Proyas will write and direct an adaptation of Heinlein's novella "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag" for Phoenix Pictures. The story centers on a man who becomes increasingly disturbed when he realizes he cannot account for his activities during the day or even what he does for a living. He explains his problem to a private detective agency and their investigation leads to a series of revelations they could never have fathomed. Sounds an awful lot like Dark City, which was Proyas' own creation from 1998, and a huge cult sci-fi hit itself. The film is described as a complex psychological thriller with plenty of action and is expected to start production in 2010.
"I read this story as a kid, and it really stayed with me," Proyas explains. "It's part of my creative DNA." The novella was originally published in 1942 (pick up a copy here) and has been called some of "Heinlein's best short fiction." Delving deeper into the story, Mr. Hoag, the main character, finds a curious reddish residue under his fingernails but has no memory of how he got it. His investigation leads to non-existent 13th floors, some very shadowy characters who are part of the Order of the Bird, and a conclusion that reality really isn't what we think it is. Phoenix Pictures' Brad Fischer described the project as "cool and original" and includes that the budget is expected to be $40 to $50 million.
I know I'll definitely be keeping my eye on this project, although the title is expected to change. The way I envision this project is a melding of Proyas, who directed one of my sci-fi favorites I, Robot, and Heinlein, who wrote the original "Starship Troopers" book, which is also one of my favorite sci-fi movies. These two ideas coming together can only mean great things. And as for Hollywood's so called "sci-fi saturation", I've got no problem with it. I'm always up for more sci-fi and could literally watch a new sci-fi film every day, so bring it on! "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag" definitely sounds very interesting and I'm tempted to pick it up, but I'd rather wait for the big screen version to find out what's going on before I read the book.
Reader Feedback - 4 Comments
I read Heinlein's Starship Troopers years ago and enjoyed it so I have to put this book on my to read list. Sounds like an interesting premise. By the way, Dark City: DC is great. Definitely better than the other version with the explanation at the beginning.
Film-Book dot Com on Aug 20, 2008
"Sci-fi saturation"? I'm with you...bring it on!? I don't see a heck of a lot of sci fi films or tv shows coming out every year. So where are they getting this from? I'm more into the outer space-y kind of science fiction...but any Robert Heinlein adaptation I am more than happy to watch!
Movie Lover on Aug 20, 2008
I love Heinlein, my all time favorite author. I have read just about every book he has written, some are out of print and really hard to find, but for the most part the movie versions of his books have been very bad. I did like Starship Troopers, most hard core Heinlein fans do not, it has very little in common with the book but both are good, to me. I would love to see another good movie made from his books. This particular book is very complex so there will probably be a lot of changes from the book but that doesn't have to be a bad thing. One of his books that would make a really great movie is Friday, women with painted on clothes, brain transference, if you've never read it you should.
Moviegimp on Aug 20, 2008
I thought Dark City was terrific. I would describe it using the abused/overused term "trippy.*" Between the "head" stuff the characters (amazing cast!) deal with and the emanations of the city as shown onscreen, it earns that sobriquet. It is also "Dickensian" as in Philip K. I hope that I someday get the chance to see it on a big screen. I'd love to see a different take on some same/similar concepts. *Another modern "trippy" movie which I didn't like as much is The Fountain.
zubzwank on Aug 24, 2008
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