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'Ruby Sparks' Writer/Star Zoe Kazan On the Personal Nature of Her Screenwriting Debut and Letting the Muse Speak to Her

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire July 25, 2012 at 12:06PM

It was only a matter of time before Zoe Kazan penned her first screenplay. The actress, best known for her supporting turns in "Revolutionary Road" and "Meek's Cutoff," is the offspring of two Academy Award-nominated screenwriters, Nicholas Kazan and Robin Swicord; granddaughter to legendary director Elia Kazan; and has already seen a play of hers premiere off-Broadway.
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"Ruby Sparks"
Fox Searchlight "Ruby Sparks"

Did you envision yourself and Paul in the leads when originally crafting the screenplay?

It really was like Calvin in the movie. I woke up one morning and these people were in my head. It was as clear as day. I wrote about five or six pages. Paul came home from work and I said, "You need to come here and read this." He read it and said, "You're writing it for us?" It hadn't occured to me at all, because they had been so clear to me. And then I thought, "Oh, you're totally right!" I definitely was writing us, but it just hadn't occured to me. From that moment on I was very conscious that I wanted it to be Paul and I.

"Paul's a really funny guy. He's gotten to play so many dark characters, that I don't think people get to think of him as funny."

How did that change the writing process?

The only thing that changed was... it was still about being open to the story, but Paul's a really funny guy. He's gotten to play so many dark characters, that I don't think people get to think of him as funny. So once I knew that it would be Paul, I started to make him do things that I enjoy. He's really physically adept, so there's a lot of physical comedy in there.

How much fun was it to write Ruby for you? You gave yourself so much to play with.

You know what? I really wasn't thinking about it to be totally honest. I keep saying, "They took me by the hand." I took a lot of time rewriting it, but my original bout of writing was all about trying to be true to the story and honor these people. I wasn't thinking about acting at all. In fact I was so not thinking about the acting, that when we were a week and a half out of production, I was rewriting the scene where Ruby shows up at Calvin's house for the first time. For the first time I read that scene through Ruby's eyes, because Calvin's the protagonist, so I had written it through his eyes. When I reversed it, I was like, "Oh my god, he is acting so weird." I really didn't engage that part of my brain until the final weeks.

"Ruby Sparks"
Fox Searchlight "Ruby Sparks"

What do you have in the works writing wise?

Writing wise, I like to have a lot of things on the burners at once, because when I hit a wall, I like to move on to the thing I haven't hit a wall on. So I have a play and I have a couple of screenplays. I'm really looking forward to getting back to writing. I haven't been able to in a long time.

Anything about the screenplays you're willing to divulge?

Not yet. I have to let the muses talk to me.

What about directing?

I would like to. I know Paul and I both would like to keep producing and help make more films happen. I think down the line that's something I'd be interested in. But not yet -- it's a huge commitment.

This article is related to: Interviews, Zoe Kazan, Ruby Sparks