Dan Clowes’ work may not be the most commercial-friendly in the comic book business, but he is currently the only professional graphic novelist to have been nominated for an Oscar and will adapt another one of his original creations, Wilson, for the big screen.
Fox Searchlight has struck a deal with Clowes to pen the screenplay for a cinematic adaptation of Wilson and is looking to bring award-winner Alexander Payne (Sideways) onboard as director.
The titular star of Clowes’ Wilson is a highly opinionated, middle-aged man who likes to bemoan that humanity has lost its “sense of community,” but prefers spending time with his dog over interacting with other humans. Wilson eventually sets out to reconnect with his ex-wife and, like Ben Stiller’s dour carpenter in this year’s Greenberg, quickly discovers that his misanthropic ways are not as easily overcome as he might’ve hoped.
Deadline broke the story concerning Clowes’ deal to pen the script for Wilson, which will produced by Payne’s Ad Hominem in collaboration with Josh Donen, on behalf of Sam Raimi’s Stars Road.
Clowes adapted his comic book Ghost World to general critical acclaim back in 2001, but the cinematic version of his satirical novel, Art School Confidential (which Clowes penned the script for as well) was given a cooler reception. Wilson is more in the vein of the former project, which also revolved around characters of a flawed, sometimes downright unlikable, and yet still empathetic nature. Thora Birch even wore black-rimmed glasses very similar to Wilson’s for her role in the Ghost World movie (see below), amusingly enough.
Payne arguably has a specialty for handling character-driven dramas that deal with the attempts (and often failures) of everyday people to change their ways (case in point: his next directorial effort, The Descendants, features George Clooney as a man who attempts to rekindle ties with his daughters). Wilson himself even sounds like a younger version of Jack Nicholson’s retiree from Paynes’ adaptation of About Schmidt.
The Sideways director also has a knack for dark comedy (see his biting high school satire, Election, for proof), which Wilson will certainly have plenty of. If he does choose to helm Dan Clowes’ latest, Payne would be an excellent fit, given the subject matter and tone of the project.
We’ll keep you posted on the development of Wilson as more news comes our way.