Stranger Than Fiction Marc Forster

Marc Forster's aptly titled Stranger Than Fiction is a heartfelt comedy about taking the life you have and making it the one you've always wanted.

World-premiering at the Toronto Film Festival, “Stranger than Fiction” will be released by Columbia November 10, in time for the holidays season, with which the feature's theme is most suitable.

After ten years of painstaking work, novelist Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson) is nearing completion on her latest and potentially finest book. Her only remaining challenge is to figure out how to kill off her main character, Harold Crick. Little does she know that Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) is inexplicably, alive-and-well in the real world, and suddenly aware of her words.

Fiction and Reality

Fiction and reality collide, when the bewildered and hilariously hesitant Harold hears what she has in mind, and realizes he must find a way to change Karen–and hisending.

“It's written!” declares many a spiritual text, and more than one faith proposes that the day of persons' death has been written in stone long before they are born.

But what if there was an actual writer doing the writing Not an all-knowing god-like writer with a clay tablet, but a blocked, irascible, self-destructive, chain-smoking writer, working with a buffered IBM Selectric

Serio Comedy

It was this though-provoking comedic premise, combined with the story's deeply felt emotions, that attracted director Marc Forster to newcomer Zach Helm's screenplay.

While comedy may seem to be a departure for Forster, exploring the blurry lines between truth and illusion has long been at the core of his work, from his stunning experimental debut, Everything Put Together, which put Radha Mitchell on the map, to his latest disappointing foray into the supernatural-sci-fi genre with “Stay.”

This thematic concern is particularly relevant in Forster's most commercial film to date, the Oscar-nominated “Finding Neverland,” his poignantly lyrical exploration of “Peter Pan” author J.M. Barrie's magical imagination, starring Johnny Depp.

What Forster immediately loved about “Strangers Than Fiction” was that, in the midst of Harold Crick's unusual and unlikely predicament, is a hilarious yet deeply moving inquiry into how we shape our realities.

Waking up before it's too late

He says: “I saw 'Stranger Than Fiction' as the story of a man who's been asleep for most of his life and suddenly wakes up and realizes he has very little time left and that he has to do something we all would like to do in some waychange our story. I thought it was a fantastic script, a very funny comedy with heart and soul.”

Forster elaborates: “I've always wanted to try something comedic, but I also try to make films that are not just entertaining, but also emotional and inspiring. I was fascinated by 'Stranger Than Fiction,' because I think we all have a narrator in our lives. We all have inner voices in our heads that tell us what to do and how to be. What Harlod Crick discovers in the midst of these incredible events is how to escape all that and really begin to enjoy every second of his existence.”

Forster's long-time producing partner Eric Kopeloff, who first worked with the director on “Monster's Ball,” for which Halle Berry received the 2002 Best Actress Oscar, was equally enthralled by the screenplay: “March has always made such interesting choices, and this film was a wonderful story that he had never told before. Creatively, Marc is always looking for a fresh road to travel and 'Stranger Than Fiction' was definitely that.”

What inspired the tale

The inspiration for 'Stranger Than Fiction' began in 2001, when the then 26-year-old writer Zach Helm flashed upon the idea of a man who finds himself accompanied day and night by a relentless narrator only he can hear. Helm brought the idea to producer Lindsay Doran, with whom he was already collaborating on another project, and as they talked about the best direction for the story to take, Helm decided the narrator should say that the man is about to die.

Recalls Zach Helm: I wanted to tell the story of a man who found his life just before he lost it. There's something very poetic in the understanding of one's place in the world and the meaning of one's life, but it's far more dramatic when such understanding occurs only days before that life ends.”