With the release of his upcoming project Blood and Chocolate on Friday, January 26th, screenwriter Ehren Kruger (The Ring, The Skeleton Key) sat down with MoviePulse for a one on one interview concerning his latest picture, the screenwriting process and upcoming projects!
Movie Pulse: What drew you to adapting Blood and Chocolate?
Ehren: Well, I really enjoyed the novel which was written by Annette Curtis Klause. What interested me about Blood and Chocolate was how it’s told from the point of view of a werewolf community that has been hiding for centuries. It was interesting for me to write characters from that point of view, characters who don’t view being a werewolf as a curse, but rather as a blessing to be superhuman. In that way it inverts the traditional idea of a werewolf as being monstrous, hairy and terrifying. It tries to tell a story about their conflict with humanity.
MoviePulse: How much time did it take to adapt the novel into a screenplay?
Ehren: With adaptations you always have more material than you can use in a film, so you are always looking to strip things away, trying to find the core that will support a two hour movie. It came to about six drafts, working with director Katja von Garnier and finding the story that Katja wanted to tell.
MoviePulse: How closely does the screenplay follow the novel?
Ehren: The book is a bit different. We did decide to make some alterations to tell a story that would work better in visual form while keeping a rhythm that a movie needs. All the core scenes and characters [from the novel] are all in there. The basic conflict of the book, focusing on the protagonist Vivian and her conflict between her animal and civilized impulses which threatens to destroy her pack, is all straight from the book.
The major changes that we made were moving the central cast of characters, who in the book attend high school in Maryland. We wanted to make them a bit older too, like their late teens, early twenties. While the book is using a werewolf myth as a metaphor for adolescence, we felt that the story wasn’t an isolated adolescent experience. We also moved the story to Central Europe to get a setting that expresses the visual history of the werewolves and their traditions.
MoviePulse: In many cases writers don’t get to follow their projects all the way through production, but since you were the executive producer you got to; how was this experience different than other films?
Ehren: Oh it wasn’t much different. It isn’t always true about writers, in some cases they are on set all the time. They have been put into editing, go to different test screenings and have input throughout the movie. So it isn’t always the case that writers work on a script and then lose involvement with it.
With the producing element on Blood and Chocolate I did get to have some say in areas that writer’s normally don’t. For example casting, location, choice of director and solving budget issues, things like that. The more time you can spend with the project the better, whether as just the writer or with producing responsibilities.
MoviePulse: How do Blood and Chocolate‘s werewolves differentiate themselves from the longstanding cinematic notions audience’s have of these creatures?
Ehren: We didn’t take the approach that they are entirely monsters and for that matter, entirely cursed. In this mythology, you can’t be bitten by a werewolf and become one. In the movie they also can change at times other than the night of the full moon. We also used real wolves in the film to try and emphasize the beauty and grace of their nature, and not that they are savage monsters.
MoviePulse: Now that the project has been completed, if you could go back and change anything about it, what would it be?
Ehren: That’s another good question. I am pleased with the way Blood and Chocolate turned out. There are a few scenes that I really enjoyed the writing that didn’t make the final cut of the movie, so I guess I would have tried to write them better (laughs).
MoviePulse: What keeps drawing you back to suspense genre?
Those are the kind of movies that I like to go see. I like to get a little tense in the theaters. I just like those thrilling sequences and moments in movies. I also like puzzles and mysteries too, and some of my work [like The Ring, Skeleton Key, and Reindeer Games] has tried to tie that in.
MoviePulse: You have had the chance to write both original screenplays and adaptations, which do you, as a writer, prefer doing more?
Ehren: I prefer original projects because they begin with me. In all honesty though, you can write an original project and no one pays you for it, so it’s not much of a job (laughter).
I love coming across a piece of material that takes me to a place that I wouldn’t imagine on my own, and by adapting a novel [like Blood and Chocolate] it allows me to spend months and years living vicariously in a supernatural world.
MoviePulse: On that note, was there a great difference between the screenplay you adapted for The Ring and the final product Gore Verbinski directed?
Ehren: No not really, I mean there were bits of dialogue changes, but for the most part the film is really faithful to the screenplay. I actually worked with Gore on the script, so he was involved throughout the whole writing process.
MoviePulse: There has been a lot of talk in the trades lately about the adaptation of the “John Carter of Mars” novels. Your name has been attached to the project in the past, are you still currently adapting the books for the big screen?
Ehren: That one I am unfortunately not involved with anymore. When I was working on it I was collaborating with director Kerry Conrad (Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow) for Paramount. We worked on it for a long time and we couldn’t quite get it together and jump all the hurdles. Now it’s getting started at Disney and I have a feeling the movie will still be made, but it is a very ambitious project.
MoviePulse: Can you shed any light on other upcoming projects like The Talisman?
Ehren: Well, The Talisman is an adaptation of a Steven King and Peter Straub novel. It is the story of a teenage boy’s quest to save his mother by traveling through this parallel dimension of America. It is a great novel and it happens to have a werewolf in it too (chuckles), but that is what I am working on currently.
Blood and Chocolate opens Friday, January 26th; Look for the MoviePulse review next week!
– Joe Russo, MoviePulse