For Matthew Quick, the author of “Silver Linings Playbook,” there was a long dark period before the hit film starring Bradley Cooper brightened movie screens.
Things started off beautifully in 2007 when The Weinstein Co. optioned the film rights to Quick’s 2008 debut novel, then in manuscript form. “The English Patient’s”s Anthony Mighella and the legendary Sydney Pollack both expressed interest in directing.
Then Minghella died in March 2008 and Pollack in May of that year.
“We felt cursed,” says Quick, 39, reached at the Massachusetts home he shares with his wife, novelist Alicia Bessette. “Waiting for this film, it was like waiting for a sunrise.”
Still, the eventual film adaptation directed by David O. Russell (who also adapted the screenplay) has become a sensation. It’s been nominated for eight Academy Awards and has earned nearly $100 million.
In the movie, Cooper plays a bipolar man, obsessed with his estranged wife, who returns home after his mom gets him released from a psychiatric hospital. Jennifer Lawrence, a troubled but sexy neighbor, is the unlikely love interest.
Quick was not involved with the film, spending only a day on the set. Although the movie differs from his novel, Quick “loves” Russell’s adaptation and is happy that it has encouraged more openness about mental illness.
Is he going to Los Angeles for the Oscars? “My wife says we’re going!” says Quick.
Without her encouragement, Quick might be still be teaching English and coaching soccer and basketball at a highly competitive public high school in New Jersey.
While he encouraged his students to follow their bliss, “I polished the bars of my prison,” Quick says. Instead of pursuing his dream of writing fiction, he kept thinking about how he “had tenure and a house in a great neighborhood.”
Why didn’t he write while teaching?
No time, says Quick, who remains in touch with many former students. Between classes, practices and games, he was leaving the house at 6:30 a.m. and coming home past 11 p.m. most school days. Weekends were devoted to correcting papers written by 80-plus students, all aiming for top colleges.
Quick’s decision to quit “was a last-ditch effort to save myself,” he says. His wife arranged for them to live with her parents so he could do nothing but write. “It was a scary time,” says Quick. “I was raised in a blue-collar town where you don’t take handouts.”
Like his characters, the New Jersey native was and remains a Philadelphia Eagles fanatic, who, along with his siblings, still attends every home game, commuting 10 hours round-trip. “My book is about the universal language of sports and fathers,” he says.
Although Quick’s novel received admiring reviews when it was published in 2008, it was the movie that put the book on USA Today’s Best-Selling Books list. Released in October 2012, the movie tie-in edition hit the list on Jan. 3, 2013. The novel is currently No. 12, its highest ranking. There are 171,000 copies in print; 100,542 copies of the e-edition have sold.
In addition to Silver Linings, Quick has written three novels for young adults.
His second adult novel will be published early next year by HarperCollins. “The Good Luck of Right Now” tells the story of an isolated man in his late 30s in search of a new family after the death of his mother.
And yes, for Matthew Quick, at least, history does repeat itself: DreamWorks already has optioned the novel.
Gannett News Service