Written Interview: Will Reiser

February 23rd, 2013 by

Will Reiser wrote the movie 50/50, a semi-autobiographical look at his own experiences with cancer. An excerpt from an interview on LittleWhiteLies:

When did you first have the conversation with Seth about turning your experiences in to a film?

Seth and I had been best friends for a long time and it started when we were at a party when I was sick. We realised very quickly that people’s impressions of cancer were entirely based on movies they’d seen, and I think around that time The Bucket List had come out and people were asking me what my bucket list was. And Seth and I thought it was so funny that people thought, in spite of the fact that I was sick, that I somehow had an ambition to go to like India or something, or go on a safari, or go to the Serengeti. I mean that’s like the last place you want to go. You have a weakened immune system and you want to go to a third world country? Who in their right mind would do that? So just at the party that night we were joking around and we were like, ‘Oh, we should do a movie and we should call it ‘The Fuck-It List’.’

And we just sort of spitballed these ridiculous ideas, and that’s where the movie started. But to start with it was really just a joke and as comedy writers we’re always trying to find the humour in any situation and that was sort of the way we coped with it at the time. But obviously when I got better and we had some perspective, Seth and his writing partner Evan Goldberg urged me to write a script inspired by my experience. So that night at the party was really the first discussion about it and after that night it would be this idea that we would talk about, but after I got better that’s when I actually started writing it.

And did you find it quite cathartic to write about your experience? Did it help you cope with your illness?

Immensely cathartic, yeah. When I got diagnosed when I was 25, I didn’t have the emotional capacity to talk about my feelings. That was just something that I wasn’t capable of. But writing the script, that was my way to say all the things I didn’t know how to say when I was sick. So it was incredibly cathartic and it was a way for me to process everything. And even after I wrote the first draft, Seth and Evan said to me that they didn’t feel that the main character was flawed enough. So I had to look back at my own missteps and my own dysfunctions and not just other people’s and that was very important, not just as a writer but also on an emotional level, to just confront my own behaviour. For instance, like, my own inability to let my own mother take care of me, so I think that was important.

For more, go here.

HT to Shaula Evans for the link.

Leave a Reply