A recent post—prompted by one of my readers—asked blog readers to suggest which of my books would they most like to see made into a movie. While a fair number suggested Crispin, and The Fighting Ground, most folks suggested The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. Over the years any number of people have taken out options [contractual agreements which permit working on a production] of my books. No films have been made. The one that came closest was Charlotte.
Anyone who took an interest in the book was told that the only contract I would agree to sign was one which agreed not to change the ending.
If I remember correctly, it was Danny DeVito’s young daughter who brought the book to her father’s attention. He took an option on the book and held it, I believe, for about seven years.
He wrote a script, of which I approved. I had an opportunity to meet with Mr. DeVito in his home, where he discussed all the things he planned to do with the film. He even showed me a large model of The Seahawk, which he had built.
As it developed (over the years) DeVito was going to direct the film. Morgan Freeman was going to play Zachariah, and Pierce Brosnan was to play Jaggery. Dakota Fanning was the first choice to play Charlotte. When the project was continually delayed, Saoirse Ronan was considered for the part.
The project advanced—(I don’t remember who was finally going to act Charlotte)—the filming scheduled, an old sailing ship (on Lake Erie) was chartered to serve as The Seahawk, costumes and props were made.
Two weeks prior to the commencement of filming, Morgan Freeman had a car accident and was seriously hurt. The short of it is that the whole production was halted and was never resumed. The option expired and was not renewed.
[Keep in mind my knowledge of all this is at best sketchy because—having nothing to do with the production—I learned of things only second-hand.]
Would I like a film made of the book? Sure. Will it happen? I doubt it. However, to answer the question in the original post as to which of my books I would most like to see made into a film, I’d have to say, City of Orphans.