Sarah Polley, the Canadian actress turned writer-director, is being courted by Paramount to pen the screenplay for the coming-of-age drama Looking for Alaska, based on the first novel by The Fault in Our Stars author John Green. Paramount has held the rights to the novel for nearly ten years now, showing just how long and arduous a process it can be for a film to finally start coming together. The box-office bounty of Green’s cancer love story has very quickly made Looking for Alaska a priority for Paramount.
The journey has been so long in fact, that when Paramount first secured the rights to Green’s debut novel back in 2005, it came with a script already written by Josh Schwartz which appeared on Hollywood’s Black List of the best unproduced screenplays. Schwartz, who previously directed the kids flick Fun Size and is better known as the creator of successful television shows The O.C. and Gossip Girl, was originally brought on to direct the project as well. That version of the project never get off the ground, but with the success of the modestly budgeted The Fault in Our Stars, along with a strong social media buzz accompanying the film’s release earlier this month, interest has picked up.
The story, based on Green’s personal experiences, centers around a 16-year-old named Miles Halter who comes of age at an Alabama boarding school. While there Miles becomes besotted with the beautiful and mysterious Alaska Young, a young woman who opens Miles up to the world and encourages him to plot pranks on his spoiled peers. However, Alaska may also be self-destructive and possibly headed down a dark path. (500) Days of Summer producers Mark Waters (director of Mean Girls) and Jessica Tuckinsky will steer Looking for Alaska from their their Watermark Pictures production company.
Polley, who came to prominence as an actress early in her career while appearing in films such as The Sweet Hereafter and Go, has focused mainly on writing and directing in recent years. She earned an Oscar nomination for co-writing the 2007 drama Away From Her, a film she also directed. Since then, she both wrote and directed the well-received 2012 drama Take This Waltz, which starred Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen, and last year earned rave reviews for her non-fiction film Stories We Tell. That film that was shortlisted for the 2013 Best Documentary Academy Award, though in the end was not nominated. With a perspective that has so far proven to be insightful and intelligent, Polley appears a fine choice to pen a story like this. There’s no word yet on possible directors for Looking for Alaska, but since she’s already proven she has the chops, perhaps Polley will be the top choice.