Monday 25 September 2017

'It's amazing beginner's luck with my very first screenplay' - Emma Donoghue on Oscar nomination

Writer Emma Donoghue attends the
Writer Emma Donoghue attends the "Room" premiere during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival at the Princess of Wales Theatre on September 15, 2015 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Emma Donoghue has revealed she was on live radio when she heard she had been nominated for an Oscar.

The Irish author, playwright, and now screenwriter, was being interviewed live BBC radio as the nominations were announced.

She was nominated for Adapted Screenplay for her work adapting her own best-selling novel Room for the big screen. 

"It was a very 21st century moment," Donoghue told RTE Radio One, "I was on radio for my interview with them listening to the nominations being read aloud and then having to react to the news on the spot, which was fine because I had happy news to react to!"

Trapped: Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay in 'Room'
Trapped: Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay in 'Room'

She added, "I thought I would have to behave very well on the spot by reacting immediately to not getting any nominations."

Room bagged four nominations in total.  Director Lenny Abrahamson is in the running for Best Director while the film was nominated for Best Picture and lead actress Brie Larson, who won the Golden Globe, was nominated for Best Actress.

"To get all four was just staggering," said Emma, who then revealed the approach Lenny had asked her to take regarding the screenplay.

The film charts the daily life of a five-year old boy who lives with his mother in a tiny room.  The woman was abducted seven years previously and has lived in the room ever since, raising her son as though everything is normal.  The story is told through the child's eyes.

The team from Element Pictures. Photo: Patrick O'Leary
The team from Element Pictures. Photo: Patrick O'Leary

"The film is such a masterpiece of naturalism, I remember [Lenny] saying to me to write it like a wildlife documentary," she said.

"He was trying to give the impression of Ma [Brie Larson] and Jack [Jacob Tremblay] just going about their business in their strange little world and he filmed that so naturalistically you almost think he just stuck them in a shed and turned the camera on.

"Of course every shot is carefully shaped.  He doesn't show off, he's a really unshowy director.  So it seemed for a while that people just weren't realising quite what an exquisite job he had done."

Abrahamson has also been praised for encouraging a wonderful performance from child actor Jacob who plays Jack.

"That's one of the hardest things for a director to do I think is to delicately tease and cajole a performance out of a child without ever making a child feel nagged or rebuked or hassled," said Emma.

"Lenny just never lost his temper with Jacob.  Brie Larson did a huge amount for that too, but I think it's really down to the director.  I'm not sure you get get a truly great child performance unless the director is a master of working with children and working with actors and realising that every actor needs a slightly different treatment."

Emma also revealed she is currently writing the screenplay for her latest novel Frog Music for British producer Alison Owen.

Of her Oscar nomination, she said, "I think it'll certainly open doors for me.  It's amazing beginner's luck really with my very first screenplay I'd end up with this but not only getting an Oscar nomination but with the entire film being so wonderful."

Emma revealed she will be attending the Oscars with her partner of 22 years, Chris who has "earned her role there by now" and she added, "I couldn't care less what I wear.  I refuse to have that conversation!"

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